Godwin Ligo

VNPF GM Parmod Achary.

Students who are studying at Emalus Campus under the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) education scheme, are calling on the Vanuatu Government and VNPF to pay their accommodation allowances.

They say that while they are happy with the sponsorship initiatives, they have not received part of the sponsorship that was supposed to cover the accommodation.

“We, the Vanuatu Government Sponsored students at Emalus would like to acknowledge the former government and the VNPF for the initiatives in sponsoring students under the VNPF scheme. However, there are concerns which we would like to stress to the current government and the VNPF board in regards to the student accommodation allowance,” they alleged.

They told the Daily Post that the offer letter which was signed by students at the beginning of the semester clearly stated the VNPF scheme will fund the tuition fees, travelling expenses, book allowances and accommodation allowance while the scholarship office will fund the students’ living allowance.

“This has brought to our attention that the tuition fees have been fully funded by the VNPF except the accommodation allowance which has not been met even though it was stated in the agreement letter. We know that the scheme is a kind of loan which will be still repay with interest at the end of our studies,” the students said.

“Therefore, we appreciate if the current government through the Ministry of Education and Finance together with the VNPF board to reconsider this and to meet our accommodation allowance as mentioned in the agreement letter.”

The students said some of them had resigned from their jobs expecting that the scholarship fund will cover their accommodation expenses, before actually signing the agreement letter.

“We have managed to complete the first semester successfully through the COV19-fund from VNPF,” the students said.

“We are now worrying for the second semester accommodation as there are no houses available at the campus, in particular the married and single quarters. We prefer for the VNPF to reimburse all first semester receipts and meet second semester accommodation in order for us to complete our program successfully. We deserve good student welfare for achieving our goals as far as future human resource of this nation is concern.

“We do appreciate the last Opposition bloc who have raised concern about the scheme during the beginning of the year and they are now at the helm of the government of the day, so we do believe they will listen to our concern and make reviews to the policy for the scheme to be effectively benefit our future human resources for the better wellbeing and wealthy nation in years to come.”

Daily Post has contacted the Ministry of Finance and in response, the Director General of the Ministry of Finance, Letlet August, who is also chairman of the VNPF Board said the government is aware of the students’ concern.

“We are aware of the situations and have been in consultation with the Scholarship Office on how best the situation could be addressed and improved,” Mr Letlet said.

“The Fund is working very closely with the Universities to engage in MOUs, in order to accommodate all Fund sponsored students directly into the University’s accommodation. This way, funds are paid directly into the University’s Bank accounts and it is easily manageable.

“Further, for any outstanding accommodation, the fund will ensure they are paid. The fund is encouraging sponsored student to contact the Provident Fund on their plan accommodations.

“In May this year, both the Fund and Scholarships Office met to restructure the scholarship scheme. This will include aligning the award with the country’s Human Resource Development Plan recently launched by the Government. There was a lot of discussions concerning the students’ welfare.”

In an interview with Buzz FM’s Kizzy Kalsakau, VNPF General Manager, Parmod Achary, confirmed that 95 Ni-Vanuatu students at USP’s Emalus campus in Port Vila are under the VNPF-Vanuatu Government education scheme.

He said accommodation issues have been noted and that the VNPF and the Ministry of Education (MOE) liaise closely to sort these issues. He advised the students with accommodation issues to refer this to the MOE.

“The students must see the MOE to be registered and then for the ministry to liaise with the VNPF on this,” he said.

Mr Achary assured the students that the VNPF can support the students’ accommodation expenses but this has to be registered with the MOE so that issues such as rents offered by the landlords must be considered, he said.

He said two important components of the scheme offered by VNPF and the Vanuatu Government are the tuition fee and the accommodation.

The GM said consideration is given to the students’ accommodation to ensure that they lodge where their studies must not be affected.

GM Achary said so far up to VT66 million has been paid to students under the Members Education Support Scheme and assured that that VNPF is ready to assist if the students are accommodated at the Emalus campus in Port Vila.