Some Nigerian students have been reportedly left trapped in China.
The first batch of Nigerian students, comprising eight awardees who recently left for China on scholarship under the federal government’s Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA), are trapped in different hotels in Guangzhou and other locations across the East Asian country over unpaid COVID-19 quarantine fees.
According to Daily Trust, hotel authorities where they are being quarantined before proceeding to provinces where their schools are located are said to have threatened them with eviction if they failed to make their payments at the end of their quarantine period.
Should they fail to pay, our checks reveal, the students also stand the risk of being denied Green Codes, which confirm the successful completion of quarantine and permits them to move to their school destinations.
While some of the students said they had already exhausted their upkeep allowances on the payment of the fees, which were not provided for in their scholarship letters, others said their parents and relatives had been selling properties to send them money.
The Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) Division of the Federal Scholarship Board (FSB) is primarily charged with the responsibility of implementing scholarship awards between the federal government and the governments of countries that have signed the agreement with Nigeria.
Apart from China, other countries with Bilateral Education Agreements with Nigeria are Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Romania, Russia, Serbia, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.
The first batch of awardees that are among beneficiaries for 2020, 2021 and 2022 left Nigeria through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on October 26, 2022, en route Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and are expected to be joined by another batch of about 20 students on November 16.
But the prospect of travelling to join their fellow scholars appears uncertain, going by tales of hardship already being faced by their colleagues in China, who are yet to formally commence their studies.
Findings indicate that the BEA scholarship offers a supplementation allowance of $500 per month for upkeep and books; postgraduate research grant of $1,000 per annum and warm clothing allowance of $250 per annum. Others are a takeoff grant of N100,000 and a one-way ticket to the country of study.
In her reaction, the Director of Federal Scholarship Board, Mrs Asta Ndajiwo, said she could only respond to a text message sent to her if an official letter was written through the Federal Ministry of Education.
When Daily Trust contacted the ministry through the Director of Press and Public Relations, Benjamin Goong, he said the students had no case because they were provided with their upkeep.
Whether in quarantine or school, we provided them with their upkeep on a daily basis,” he said.
When informed that the students said they had already exhausted their upkeep money on quarantine fees, Goong simply said, “It doesn’t matter,” and declined further comments.