The latest fuss to be kicked up by those sleuths at Maltatoday relates to the British Chevening Scholarships that are annually awarded to a select few. The Scholarships are funded by UK Government money and are offered in over 150 countries worldwide. 2,300 scholarships are awarded each year for postgraduate studies and research in UK Institutions of Higher Education. Chevening Scholar Anna Mallia kicked off the ruckus in an article that pointed out that most of the Maltese Chevening Scholarships were going to "connected" people. The article implied that the Zahra's, Camilleri Demarcos and other supposed noble families had undeservedly been awarded the Scholarship.
In a rush of uncontrolled socialism, the Sunday rag is now berating the British High Commission for supporting the well to do who could very well pay their own way through a scholarship and ignoring the lower strata of society. The "circle of friends" argument is out again. That argument that is so often abused of to let off the steam generated by envy and the "I want to be rich too" part of the population.
Now let me be clear about one thing. I never benefited from the Chevening Scholarship. The only scholarship I ever got was the Bruges scholarship awarded by the government of the Republic. I also do not hail from a family that can be considered - in the minds of some - as part of some elite caste in Malta. But I still disagree with all this ruckus.
I do not disagree because I don't agree with the facts. Call a spade a spade. The list of awardees does look like a mini-sons of who's who in Malta list. I disagree because I do not expect otherwise. For heaven's sake it's the Brits we are talking about. It's our former colonisers who always got through their relations with the colonies by creating an elite of the favoured. That very same elite that can be counted on because of a sound upbringing.
Remember how Rhodes Scholar Dominic Mintoff repaid the Brits for his scholarship in a socialist branch of an English University? If you were the High Commissioner forking out the dosh to subsidise the stay in the UK of a Maltese Citizen (at her Majesty's Pleasure) who would you pick on hindsight? A Borg Olivier or a Mintoff? A Gonzi or a Sant?
My point is that the scholarship is a British scholarship. So even if behind the front of clear conditions for admission there lie a web of shennanigans based on connection and a favoured (if but perceived) elite, who are we to complain? It's their money. It's still got the Queen's Head on and so she can bloody well choose who she likes for her scholarship awards. Tough shit Elaine Bonello.
Now if this were a discussion about Maltese funded scholarships with Maltese funded money and if we had the same list being sent abroad... THEN trust me if I say that even J'accuse will have its penny's worth of arguments thrown in.
Otherwise... Quod Regina Placquit....