Cameroonian students who are on scholarship in Russia have asked the government to resume paying their yearly stipends, which they say have not been paid for nearly three years now.
One of the students told MMI on Tuesday, January 17, that they have been going through very tough times since the Cameroon government stopped giving them yearly stipends of about 1.8 million francs CFA.
“We are like the forgotten children and life now is horrible –not sure if we can survive the month ahead,” the student said.
“The government fulfilled their promise and paid in full for the first year, though the money was paid late, and they paid half the amount for the second year. But for close to three years now we haven’t received anything and there is no hope of receiving any in the future if nothing is done about it,” the student added.
For the past years, the students survived on holiday jobs, but the Russia-Ukraine war has made things very difficult for them.
After the war broke out in February last year, western countries heaped several economic sanctions on Russia, and job openings shrank in the country for foreign students, leaving them desperate.
“Sometimes we used to work holiday jobs just to keep life going but since the sanctions against Russia, it has become very difficult to find a student job because most of the work for students is warehouse jobs that deals with processing of imported goods but now is not the case because they can’t import them,” the student recounted.
Lack of responsibility
Three Cameroonian Ministries are concerned with the welfare of students on scholarship in other countries: the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Higher Education and Finance.
But in the case of Cameroonian students in Russia, it seems none of these institutions is manning up to that responsibility.
Attempts by these students to reach them have been futile, as they each absolve themselves of that responsibility.
“… when you contact the Embassy to complain about it they will say they can only send us money when they receive it from the Ministry of Higher Education (MINESUP) that is responsible for the scholarship. When you contact MINESUP, they will shift the blame to the Ministry of Finance (MINFI). It is like no one wants to take responsibility over us…,” the student told MMI.
Based on the Russian government’s scholarship program, foreign students on scholarship do not pay any fees. However, the home governments usually take charge of the students’ yearly stipends.
By Tata Mbunwe