President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, Friday, 31st August 2018, pledged to address numerous problems that were raised by students pursuing various academic courses in China.
President Bio, who was in China on a state visit on the invitation of President Xi Jinping and to also attend the 2018 Beijing Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), was addressing the Sierra Leonean community at the embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Beijing.
Earlier, before President Bio’s address to the Sierra Leoneans, President of Sierra Leone students in China, Abubakarr Tamu, complained that personal effects of students who had graduated from Chinese universities two years ago are still in 40-feet containers at the embassy because there is no money to transport them back to Sierra Leone.
“Names of most of the students who had already benefited from the government’s grant-in-aid were omitted from the list. Those that are still benefiting from it have not been receiving their monthly stipends. Of course, the Chinese government is giving us allowance at the end of the month but some people have wives and kids back in Sierra Leone that still need the stipends to take care of them,” he explained.
Head of Chancery (HOC), Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in China, Unisa Sahid Kamara, reiterated to President Bio that one of the challenges that the embassy faces is the failure to repatriate personal effects of students who had graduated and also those whose names were omitted from the grant-in-aid list.
But fortunately for the students, President Bio told them that he would address their problems.
“The Minister of Finance has been ‘paopally’ informed that the containers of graduated students’ personal effects must be transported to Sierra Leone with immediate effect. We will also ‘paopally’ give the stipends of students pursuing courses here. This is to tell you that students’ issues will be ‘paopally’ addressed,” he said.
He told the students that, “this is a new dawn and a dawn of new era in Sierra Leone. Students are our most important assets and they are not only important to us but they are acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge that will make Sierra Leone a better place.”
“To indicate our readiness to transform Sierra Leone, we have prioritised free and quality education for all Sierra Leonean children. This is a deliberate attempt by this ‘paopa’ government to prepare our future leaders,” President Bio stated.
He also told the students that his government was working relentlessly to grow the economy of Sierra Leone, adding that they would be unable to absorb students who will be graduating from universities into the workforce if they failed to grow the economy.
“We will grow the economy ‘paopally’ in order to provide jobs for all of you. We have already put stringent measures to control government’s expenditure. Domestic revenue mobilisation is in full gear. We have been able to pay salaries without borrowing from anywhere. Believe me, Sierra Leone will prosper ‘paopally’,” he maintained.
President Bio noted that in September 2018, his government would start to roll out the free, quality education for primary and secondary school pupils.
“China has been able to develop in all areas because her citizens had been given quality education and if we do the same in Sierra Leone we will also develop in no time,” he stated.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Kabba, admonished the students to study very hard and return to Sierra Leone immediately after their studies, adding that the “New Direction” needs them.