The Registrar of the Scholarships Secretariat Ghana, Mr Kingsley Agyemang, has launched the first-ever decentralised district level scholarship scheme as part of a blueprint to free meritorious tertiary education in the country.
As part of the launch in Sekondi in the Western Region yesterday, some students who have been selected by the district offices of the scholarship secretariat received their scholarships ranging from an initial amount of GH¢30 million set aside by the government.
At the district level, traditional leaders, district chief executives, a representative of tertiary institutions and the Ghana Education Service (GES) sit on the board to select the scholarship recipients.
At the launch, Mr Agyemang said henceforth, applicants would not have to travel from the corners of the country to Accra but would be selected by their chiefs, religious leaders and assembly members.
He said the terms of reference of the district level scholarship scheme would be to shortlist and interview applicants who had applied for government scholarships at the various assemblies and make recommendations to the Central Scholarship Committee in Accra for consideration and scholarship awards.
Mr Agyemang stated that the government, through the Scholarships Secretariat, had made available GH¢60,000 to each of the 254 district assemblies for the award of scholarships to deserving students, while each metropolitan assembly would receive GH¢100,000 with each municipality taking GH¢80,000.
He said the process fell in line with the strategic directive of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to have the award of scholarships decentralised to ensure that Ghanaians from all walks of life, irrespective of their backgrounds, benefited from the scheme.
Free Meritorious Tertiary
Mr Agyemang explained that the President had already displayed through implementing the free senior high school (SHS) policy that it was possible for the country to implement the free and meritorious tertiary education programme.
He explained that under the new line of scholarship introduced by President Akufo-Addo known, as “Free Meritorious Tertiary (Fm Tertiary), the scholarship package would pay for the Academic Facility User Fee (AFUF) or tuition fee of deserving students in any accredited tertiary institution in Ghana, including private tertiary institutions from diploma to doctorate degree levels.
As part of the new decentralisation process, the Scholarships Secretariat was collaborating with the managers of new factories set up under the One district, One factory (1D1F) policy for beneficiaries to be absorbed and for them to earn some incomes from the secretariat.
“This is to give full meaning to the President Akufo-Addo-led government’s programmes and policies which are intricately connected,” he stated.
The Chairman for the occasion, the Omanhen of Essikado, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, lauded the decentralisation of the awards of scholarships and said that would give meaning to the dictates of the constitution.
He, however, urged the beneficiaries and others to realise that the government was able to provide them with their scholarships out of the sweat and toil of farmers whose proceeds generated some of the revenues.
A Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, described the decentralisation of government scholarships as “a brilliant idea because it will prevent our kids from dropping out of school because of lack of finance.”
He added that the move was to prevent the situation where one person sitting in Accra decided on who was entitled to benefit from scholarships and tasked the beneficiaries to make use of the awards to make the metropolitans, municipals and districts proud.