There is a huge uncertainty over the future of the Islamic Development Bank IDB scholarships offered to Muslim students in Malawi after the sponsors have reduced the number of beneficiaries with fifty percent this year.
According to the information gathered by Malawi Muslims official website, the bank has decided to cut the number due to the failure of those who benefitted from respecting the agreement of paying back the money since the scholarship is awarded in form of interest free loan.
When the IDB started awarding the scholarships, it made clear that once the students have attained higher education and subsequently get employment, they should have a foundation in which they be paying back the loan to the foundation in form of contribution.
The money is meant to assist other needy Muslims in attaining higher education locally hence inculcating the spirit of assisting the less privileged in the Muslim society.
Nevertheless, this has not been the case though several Muslims in the southern African state have registered prosperity due to the IDB project that started a couple of decades ago.
The IDB has been carrying out this project through Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) that has been benefitting six Muslim students annually.
Most of the recipients study in Turkey in various disciplines including medicine.
Meanwhile MAM‘s secretary general Dr Salmin Omar has described the reduction of the beneficiaries as a setback towards ensuring that the country is having more Muslims who attain university studies.
He said, “the problem was lack of coordination among the graduates informing a foundation per IDB requirements.
“Right now what we are doing is to make sure that these people should come together and start a project that will require them to be contributing towards the attainment of their fellow brothers and sisters of higher education, in so doing we will fight poverty amongst us.”
Meanwhile, MAM has already conducted the interviews for the prospect beneficiaries that saw over 40 students competing for three places.
Dr Salmin added that his association, with the reduction, fears that IDB might decide to stop awarding the scholarship if those who went through the same system are not complying with the initial agreement.
However, the Malawi’s IDB Project Coordinator Wilfred Ali brushed aside the fears that the scholarships might end.
Ali who also works for Central Eastern African Railways Limited (CEAR) as the Director of Marketing and Commercial Services said the reduction of the beneficiaries has come about due to the development in the Arab world.
“Most country members of IDB are from the Arab world. The bank’s role is to assist Muslims in non-member countries such as Malawi.
“Beginning last year up to date ,there have been several disturbances taking place in the Arab world in regard to economy and this has affected us in this way. There are not ending the scholarship but rather managing the resources that they have .we will see what will happen in the next years ,maybe it will go up when the economic situation changes for better in that world,” he explained.
He then admitted that there has a problem in running the foundation for those obtained higher education through the scholarships.
Ali added that the foundation has now been formed following discussions that have taken place with both IDB officials in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and the beneficiaries in the country.
Muslim students in Malawi rely on scholarships from Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia among others since they have no their own Islamic University.