Lost in Lambirds
- The students smuggled to St Lucia deserve an answer from the state
Mar 9, 2015-
On Sunday, news broke that dozens of Nepali students were stranded in St Lucia, a tiny nation on the Caribbean Sea. The educational institution they were enrolled in was revealed as fake. A day later, the number was revised to at least 70 students, all of whom had enrolled at Lambirds Academy for a diploma in hospitality and tourism. The students and their families had spent up to Rs 2 million to enrol in the institution, in hopes of being transferred to an American college within a year. The truth came to light after the St Lucian police raided the academy a few weeks ago and charged several people with human trafficking.
Around 18 of the Nepali students are reported to have flown back home. And it has been shown that 10 educational consultancies in Kathmandu, Bharatpur and Biratnagar sent the students to St Lucia. Although these agents have denied their involvement in the scam, saying that they thought the institution was a genuine one, the incident warrants investigation. This is not the first time Nepali students have found themselves cheated. In January last year, around 300 Nepali students were left homeless in Malaysia after the institution they were enrolled in turned out to have no legal existence. And in late 2012, around 500 Nepali students found themselves without a school in the UK, after the British government banned London Metro University from enrolling non-EU foreign students, in fears that the school was encouraging illegal immigration.
These stories show the sorry state our country and our youths are in. It is dispiriting to know that families, who are willing to pay Rs 2 million to get their children out of the country, cannot think of a bright future here in Nepal. According to Nepal Education in Figures 2014, more than 28,000 students obtained no-objection letter from the Ministry of Education in the fiscal year 2013/2014. These letters allow students to leave the country for education.
The state has already failed in retaining its young talent—a fact also reflected in the migration of around 2,000 youths a day as migrant labourers to Malaysia and the Gulf countries. The least it can do is not wash its hands of the exploitation that these youths, whether they go abroad for education or otherwise, face. In the case in St Lucia, the Nepali government should look thoroughly into the educational consultancies involved in sending the students to the Caribbean. The explanation they have provided is no excuse for irresponsibility. Most consultancies charge hundreds of thousands of money to send a student abroad. The students deserve an answer. Authorities at the Ministry of Education who allowed these students to depart should also be held accountable. This does not absolve the students and their families of blame, though. Both prospective students and their families should have done their own research on the educational institution. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it often is.
Published: 10-03-2015 08:56