Ghana has set two records - the highest number of awardees and passing the gender target of 50-50 male-female representation in the 2019 cohort of the Australia Awards Scholarship scheme.
A total of 21 Ghanaian professionals and one each from Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone, were awarded the scholarship to undertake fully-funded Master’s studies in various Australian Universities, starting from January 2019.
Speaking at the start of a two-day pre-departure briefing for the awardees in Accra on Tuesday, Mr. Andrew Barnes, Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, said the event marked a historic moment for the High Commission and the Australia Awards Programme.
He said this year’s cohort represented the highest number of Masters Scholarships awarded in Ghana and its nine countries of accreditation across West Africa.This, he noted, was testament to the outstanding calibre of candidates from West Africa and underscored the high value, the Australian government placed on its bilateral partnership with African countries.
The cohort also has the first ever Master Scholar from Cote d’Ivoire, and also for the first time exceeded the Award’s Sub-Regional gender target, with more than half of the 23 scholars being female.
Mr. Barnes congratulated the scholars, who underwent a rigorous selection process to be awarded a scholarship, out of over 3,500 applicants, adding that the scholarship will equip them with the requisite skills and training to help them make a notable difference in their home countries on return.
“I am confident that you will make important contributions to national and regional development upon your return home,” he said, adding that the Australian government recognized that education and training have a central role in development.
“By creating a skilled and socially-engaged workforce to bring positive changes, higher education helps to improve the prospects for economic growth, social cohesion, democratic reform and good governance, all of which contribute to the elimination of poverty,” he stated.
Mr. Glen Askew, Deputy Australian High Commissioner, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, attributed the increase in the number of successful candidates partly to the expansion of the Award’s focus areas to include Education and Health, from the previous focus on extractives, agriculture and governance.
He added that Australian awards scholars were making various contributions to the development of their home countries.Ms. Akua Sarpong Manu, one of the scholars who will be studying a Master in Energy and Mining Law in Australia, said she was looking forward to a full experience and benefiting from the high standard of education in Australia.
Ms. Kafayat Abdul Karim, an Australia Awards Scholarship alumnus, said her scholarship in Australia in 2016, studying Agric Economics, had equipped her to deliver in her work in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as budget Officer.She noted that it had improved her critical thinking and public speaking abilities as well, and encouraged the 2019 to take advantage of the opportunity.
Mr. Setor Adanuvor, Assistant Director at the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat, commended the Australian government for the continue support through the Awards programme.He advised the scholars to be good citizens and representatives of Ghana during their stay in Australia, while focusing on their studies.
The 2018 application round for Australia Awards Master’s and Short course scholarships are currently open and will close on December 3rd, 2018 and January 15th, 2019 respectively.
Applications should be made online via www.australiaawardsafrica.org.