There is a growing disquiet among students from St. Vincent and the Grenadines currently studying in Taiwan about the possibility of Kingstown breaking relations with Taiwan and the impact on their education.
The anxious students are calling for clarity from the opposition party NDP who have been reticent about their intentions since announcing the policy shift about two years ago.
In an interview earlier this year, when asked what are the plans for the current students in Taiwan, Opposition Leader Dr Godwin Friday said:
“Well, listen we are not at that point. The main thing that people have to understand is that the opportunities that are given to our students will always be there and there are many, many opportunities in countries all over the world.”
He said if they initiate diplomatic relations with mainland China that there would be scholarship opportunities for students.
However, he did not say what will happen to current students mid-way through their studies in Taiwan or whether they would have to compete for the new scholarships.
There are currently over 100 Vincentians studying various programs at the Diploma, Degree, Masters and Doctoral levels in Taiwan.
However, one student has made her dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity on the policy known as she fears for the worse. Current student Chanolde Munroe has lambasted the NDP position in a Facebook commentary earlier today:
“Imagine how you would feel not know[ing] what your future holds because a party who wants to form government doesn’t have a clear plan for the students who are here. I guess you’ve gotten too big for seat and you have arrived, so you don’t care about anyone else.”
“No one in the opposition has clearly outlined a plan. Would the students be given the option on a government bursary to complete their studies? Would our only option be to go to China and just restart our programs? Would I be able to get a scholarship to study elsewhere if I am not able to continue my studies in Taiwan?”
Regarding the merit of her argument, other persons have noted that in an interview last month, the Opposition candidate for the East Kingstown constituency Fitz Bramble told the Xtreme FM morning program that the new candidates had not yet sat down to discuss the China/Taiwan issue and could not offer any comment.
The NDP position was announced by former party leader Arnhim Eustace and reiterated as the party’s position by Dr Friday on taking leadership of the party.
Miss Munroe went on to argue:
“I am worried, I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO CHINA. I am not going anywhere, where my basic human rights would be infringed. I cannot study journalism in a country that has NO FREE PRESS!!! I am not going to redo five years, and I am guessing five with an extra year to learn the language.”
But her stinging critique has been reserved for what appears to be a rebuttal by former student Kenton Chance who pursued his Bachelor and Masters programs in Taiwan on a government scholarship.
In a Facebook post, the experienced journalist said:
“The ignorance I see on that thread is shocking, especially among university students. When would people learn to put the interest of SVG above another country’s, even though that other country is paying for their education?”
An upset Munroe who is also a journalism student retorted:
“Former Taiwan student calling current students in Taiwan ignorant because they are worried about their future. The opposition leader said wait until they’re in government to tell us what they are doing. That sound like sense?”
“You were once here, imagine how you would’ve felt had you been in this position. It’s ridiculous that you’re calling students fear and concern ignorance.”
“And don’t for one minute talk about country over party, because you care more about party than anything. This has nothing to do with country for you. You went to Taiwan and got what you wanted, so you care about no one else.”
“So, let me continue in my ignorance while you continue to campaign for that ambassador position that you’re not going to get.”