MONROVIA—The health system of Liberia is terrible, but yet there are no concrete actions to encourage young Liberians to pursue studies in the area of medicine. Medical institutions are ill-equipped and students undergoing tedious studies to be become doctors are not provided the needed support. Medical Students at the Country only Medical College A.M. Dogloitti College of Medicine told FrontPageAfrica that they have gone eight months without receiving their monthly stipends. The students are calling on the Liberian Government and the University of Liberia (UL) Administration to settle their obligations to them accumulated over the past eight months.
The A.M Dogloitti students, represented by their leaders, K. Mugabe Pojah, student representative to the UL Faculty Senate, and Gassimu Kaba, a third year medical student president, said they are currently facing serious difficulties due to the failure of the Government to pay their stipends.
According to the student representatives, they are ‘catching hell’ since the government promised to allot US$200 to each student of both the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy as monthly allowance to enable them to focus on their studies. The student representatives said they were promised tuition waiver scholarships for the entire duration of the program, but indicated that such promises are not forthcoming. They told the FPA that there is an agreement between the students and the government for the government to provide support while they will in turn serve the health sector upon graduation.
Said the student leader Pojah: “This process, started well as they we were regularly receiving said stipend, but it has turned disastrous over the past eight months, as we hardly receive any amount from the Fiscal Affairs office of the University of Liberia.”
“When this stipend payment was renewed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, we received US$200 each. But after a few months, the complaint came from the Fiscal Affairs Office that they were not receiving money from the government and so they have to go into an undergraduate account to pay us L$16,000, which did not match the equivalent value of the US$200,” Pojah, added.
The student representative said they were issued checks at one point in time, and were obliged to go to the bank where they found it difficult to cash their checks. According to the student leaders are not receiving any money from the UL authority as they are normally told that the government has not approved their money in the fiscal budget.
As the festive season approaches, the two medical students are lamenting that their families depend on them to provide the necessary support, but as people without jobs, due to the full-time nature of their studies, they are financially stranded, thus relying only on what the government gives them as stipend. The students are therefore appealing to the government and the UL Administration to exert every effort to pay at least three out of the eight months for now. “We need to be able to enjoy the Season with our families”, the student leader added.
Government discouraging Students
Gassimu Kaba specifically noted that students at the Medical College are Liberians, and will always be here to help the government and therefore deserve better. “It will send a bad signal to those who want to enter the Medical field, because if they hear of the sufferings we are encountering, they will surely divert to other areas of study and abandon the field that is so cardinal to the survival of Liberians”, said Kaba.
Several speakers at past University of Liberia graduation called on Liberians to study sciences as the country currently has too many business graduates. “We need Liberians to study the Sciences and avoid the business course, this country needs graduates of sciences, mainly Biology, Chemistry, or physics’, most Liberian students are staying away from the sciences because they don’t want to put in time to study” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said during one of the UL Graduation ceremonies.
But now with some students willing to undertake studies in the science area, the lack of support is poising threat to their studies. When contacted, the Dean of the Medical College, Dr. Vuyu K. Golakai, confirmed that the students stipend had not been forthcoming. Dr. Golakai: “The government has not given the University of Liberia any money.” He said the faculty and staff of the institution have not been paid for the past three months because of the same reason.
Students @ UL A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine pic: umassmed.edu