The cutting-edge reforms needed to create the manpower force that will drive the government’s developmental agenda has started in earnest, with the granting of scholarships now in the hands of the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
The government, through the Scholarship Secretariat, has therefore made a provision of GHC60,000 to all the districts in the country for the award of scholarships to deserving students.
Municipal and metropolitan assemblies will also receive approximately GHC80,000 and GHC100,000, respectively, depending on their needs.
District scholarship review committees will now be responsible for receiving scholarships applications, organise selection interviews and make recommendations for the awards.
A review committee is made up of the chief executive of the assembly as the chairperson, a representative from the traditional authorities, a representative from a tertiary institution or the Ghana Education Service in the district/municipality and two representatives to be appointed by the Ghana Scholarships Secretariat.
At the national launch of the programme yesterday at Fijai in the Western Region, the Registrar of Scholarships, Kingsley Agyemang, said the process falls in line with the strategic directive of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to have the award of scholarships completely decentralised.
According to him, the current arrangement will ensure that scholarship opportunities are distributed nationwide to the needy but brilliant students through the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
“Distinguished guests, the voice of our President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, resonates in my mind, when he declared the possibility of Ghana implementing free tertiary education under our current political dispensation. Today, we are here to affirm this and to assure you that Ghanaians have voted for a President who ‘walks the talk’. Free meritorious tertiary education is a possibility,” he told the gathering.
He added that with the implementation of the ambitious Free Senior High School policy by the President, others must also take bold steps to come out with innovative ideas based on belief in the can-do spirit of the Ghanaian.
“Our generation of politicians must not lower our sights and, as the President has already displayed in implementing the Free SHS, we must take on bold challenges with a belief in the Ghanaian spirit.
“Too many years have whisked by, doing business of the day as usual and carrying on with the [existing] systems and structures. For us at the Scholarship Secretariat, charged on by the vision of the President, it is our objective to give opportunities to every single Ghanaian student that deserves an award to study,” he said.
Throwing more light on the programme, Mr Agyemang said it involves all accredited post-secondary institutions, both private and public, from the award of diplomas to PhDs.
“An initial amount of GHC30 million was not just approved but has been released by the Finance Ministry for this all-important national assignment.
“On this celestial rendition, permit me to pay a glowing tribute to the Minister of Finance, Honourable Ken Ofori-Atta, for lauding this initiative and giving his personal touch to it,” he added.
Mr Agyemang noted that the new process will not only ensure accessibility but transparency as well.
“In terms of transparency, the Scholarship Secretariat has and continues to operate an open-door policy. What this decentralisation seeks to do is to now take this open-door policy right to the doorsteps of students in their districts.
“Nothing is shrouded in secrecy since all the major stakeholders equally take part in who and who is awarded scholarship,” he said.
The Registrar of Scholarships also gave the assurance that the decentralisation will carry everyone on board without discrimination.
“Let me assure you that this is a district/municipal level initiative, and as such no district/municipality will be left out. The remaining scholarship awards will be worked on in the coming days and report back to the MMDAs with their scholarship awards,” he said.
He tasked the beneficiaries to pursue academic excellence to maintain their status on the award since the awards are annually renewable.
“As a Registrar, my core objective is to make every believing Ghanaian student able to trust that their efforts will be rewarded with a funding allowance that enables them to focus more on academics. This, after all, is the bigger picture of our President under whom I serve,” he concluded.
For his part, Yaw Osei Adutwum, Deputy Minister of Education, said the President’s commitment to education has once again manifested in the noble idea to have government scholarships decentralised.
“This is a brilliant idea because it will prevent our kids from dropping out of school because of financial challenges.
“The most important thing about this is that it prevents one person from sitting in Accra to decide who is or not entitled to scholarships,” he said.