Gov’t abandons medical students in Cuba

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Education

The government of Ghana has abandoned about 264 medical students in Cuba on government scholarships. In an interview with Osei Agyena on Ako radio, Nyarko Quansah, president of the students union expressed deep concern over government’s refusal to pay heed to their plight. Nawwaf Abass Lamin who is the organizing secretary of the students union has also appealed to government to come to their aid. Below is what he wrote:

I speak with much displeasure with respect to the appalling situation of the 264 Ghanaian students in Cuba on government scholarships.
As I speak to you now, we are owed an outstanding 11 months of our maintenance fee, thus our monthly stipends and 2 academic years of book allowances
As the saying goes.. desperate times call for desperate measures.
We the National executive council of NUGS Cuba have decided to take this step of letting our petitions, voice and plea heard through the media and through the good people of Ghana because the normal protocols n procedures we usually follow to do so has failed us times without number.
It’s been over four months now since we started crying to the people in charge of our welfare, the scholarship secretariat through the normal procedures thus through the embassy of Ghana in Cuba, in the forms of meetings and dialogues. The scholarship secretariat sent two officials to Cuba for the first time in almost six years since we left the shores of Ghana. They in the persons of Madam Priscilla Boadi and her subordinate Mr, Sarkodie came and saw with their own eyes the pathetic conditions we are in.
When we asked them about our stipends during a meeting in October when they arrived with the student body, the head of mission, Ambassador Napoleon Abdulai and other officials of the embassy, the chief director of the ministry of foreign affairs, Ambassador at large, Rasheed Inusah, they told us our money will be in by the middle of November 2017.
We believed them and thought they would henceforth quickly do something about our situation when they got home. We have been in contact with them and doing the necessary follow ups but all to no avail till date. They kept telling us fairy tales and lies that they had our money and that they were in the disbursement stages and finally told us they have sent the money to Cuba. It’s been over 3 months and still the money is not in Cuba.
When we investigated, it turned out to be all lies because they couldn’t even provide us with a bank statement to confirm the transaction from the bank of Ghana to the Cuban bank.
Could be that the bank of Ghana doesn’t have money?
We refuse to believe that the bank of Ghana is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of the bank of our nation to have caused such an inexplicable delay of our stipends. And remember, delayed justice is injustice.
Again, the Ghanaian times newspaper published a story on the 8th of January 2018 quoting the registrar of the scholarship secretariat Mr Kingsley Agyemang that they have cleared all arrears owed to Ghanaian students abroad.
I categorically say that’s a Big Lie and an affront to our reputation because either they are telling our parents back home that we are lying about out delayed stipends or they are lying and insulting our intelligence. Because, they haven’t paid us anything since they promised.
We have not brought this issue up to the media, selling ourselves and washing our dirty clothes in public if life was any bearable on the isle of Cuba without our stipends for 11 months.
Food served in the dining halls is an eye sore because it is nothing neither in quality nor quantity by virtue of what the government pay for it. We join very long queues for over an hour before we get served because there are over 5000 students in the residence from all over the world who also eat from the same dining halls.
Not to even talk of our daily transportation to our various hospitals and faculties which are located at quite distant places.
We have research and project works to do which requires hours of internet time and a lot of printed pages which can’t be done without our stipends.
It is said that, give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar. So we are not asking for anything more than what we signed and agreed in the binding contract with the government of Ghana.
We don’t come to the media to disgrace the government of Ghana nor tarnish the beautiful image of our beloved country Ghana. I personally don’t care about the politics in this situation for now because medicine is enough headache for me. We only do this so someone might prompt somebody to do his or her job and stop dramatizing our already appalling situations in Cuba.
Our colleagues from the other countries who fortunately for them do not go over 2 months tops without their stipends have nicknamed us as LOS SOBREVIVIENTES, the survivors in english language and i don’t blame them because we have been the veterans of creative suffering as said by MLK.
And we continue to work, study and carry out our duties as students with the unyielding faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
We continue to rise to majestic heights in our academic performance with resilience and discipline.
We hereby call on our nation, mother Ghana to help us with immediate effect as we are on the verge of losing our cool and patience. “Ewrade b3gye steer no oo, na yabr3 oo”
Let me conclude by quoting MLK once again “this is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism”.
Now is the time to make real the promises of the contract we signed with the government of Ghana with the fierce urgency of now.
Thank you.