Ghanaian medical students on scholarship in Cuba are lamenting the harsh conditions they currently live in worsened by a delay in the release of their stipends.
According to them, long delays in the payment of stipends, the lack of access to basic healthcare amid a global pandemic, and what they call the unresponsive attitude of the Ghanaian mission in that country, are to blame for their situation.
They claim the situation led to the avoidable death of a colleague, Erasmus Klutse.
The Organizing Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students-Cuba, Dwumfour Poku, said “we set our expectations high only to fall short as we were sabotaged by our own government. None of us accounted for the water shortages, the rotten food being served, the lack of petrol to facilitate transportation, the lack of stipends leaving us hungry, with the inflated prices in the Cuban economy, [and] the loss of our brother Erasmus Klutse due to the negligence of the Ghanaian High Commission and their sponsors.”
“Since our arrival here in 2019, we have had medical issues reported to the school’s clinic but we continue to receive mediocre treatment all because we are not under the Cuban scholarship.”
He however indicated that the students have been striving for excellence despite the challenges they face.
“Despite all of these challenges, as Ghanaian students, we have persevered and upheld a standard that is well above the reach of even those with Spanish as their native language.”
There are currently 240 students in the cohort in Cuba.
169 are under the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) scholarship, while the rest are to be funded by the Scholarship Secretariat.
Why stipends delayed
Meanwhile, a memo from the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat, dated March 18, 2021, and sighted by Citi News, appears to have informed the beneficiary students through Ghana’s missions abroad, about the delay in releasing stipends this year.
The document attributed the delay to “the transitional formalities which are affecting the release of funds for the settlement of scholarship commitments”.
“[The] Mission is therefore respectfully requested to take note of the development and disseminate the information to all scholarship beneficiaries. Students are advised to be prudent and eschew embarrassing actions in their respective countries,” the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat said in the document signed by Registrar of Scholarships, Kingsley Agyemang.