USP Scholarship termination and basic human right to political activity

Dear Sir,

In recent years the Bainimarama Government has been proclaiming proudly that by lowering the voting age to 18 they are strongly encouraging young people to be involved in the politics and governance of the country.

A necessary corollary of that must be that young people (including students) not just vote but be involved with political parties, policy issues and campaigning with voters to get their views across.

Indeed, the world over, students are at the forefront of political activity, and often radical activities, such as opposing wars, opposing racism, protecting the environment, and even being the youth arms of political parties.

The Bainimarama Government might even be hoping that the frequently and selectively maligned “old politicians” will be replaced by fresh young politicians, with fresh ideas.

But wait.

The media has reported (FT 28 May 2014) that a student’s scholarship at USP has been terminated by the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board because he had been allegedly associating himself “in political agendas” (according to the letter from Secretary to the TSLB, Ms Tofinga).

The letter from TSLB made a number of other puzzling allegations implicating USP and the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs:

2.         “and as per clause five of your award letter, you are required to abide by your institute’s  rules and regulations”  (i.e. presumably USP’s rules and regulations)

3.         “the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs has zero tolerance for behaviour contravening those aspects”  and the “MTA reserves the right to terminate your scholarship if a report is received from your institute” (i.e. presumably from USP).

Click here to read the full letter :