Registrar of the Ghana Scholarships Secretariat, Kingsley Agyemang, has emphasized that one of the most effective tool to accelerate national development is through the award of scholarships to not just brilliant and needy individuals, but deserving ones as well.
Mr Agyemang, in an interview with the media, assured that as head of an institution that is supposed to complement government efforts in promoting education across the length and breadth of the country, irrespective of one’s social background, he would ensure that the secretariat meets its expectations.
The media briefing was to throw more light on the activities of the Secretariat over the past year and its intentions moving forward.
Open Door Policy
With a mission to utilize funds from the government, the Ghana Education Trust Fund as well as donor support to provide scholarships to Ghanaians from diverse backgrounds, Mr Agyemang stressed that the Secretariat has adopted an open door policy to allow everyone, provided they meet the requirements, apply for scholarships.
“I believe education is the most important asset a nation can give its citizens because the development of every nation largely depends on how educated its people are. And with our mandate to ensure that we support individuals financially, the secretariat under my watch will not relent on this agenda,” he assured.
“We have a mandate to back our President’s vision of making education accessible to all. This is in line with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals aimed at promoting learning activities for all irrespective of geographical area or class,” he said.
“Education is a human right, and like other human rights, it cannot be taken for granted. Across the world, 59 million children and 65 million adolescents are out of school. These alarming figures indicate that there are children and youth being denied not only a right, but opportunities: a fair chance to get a decent job, to escape poverty, to support their families, and to develop their communities and countries,” he said.
Mr Agyemang’s observed that his willingness to make the Secretariat one of the supporting pillars in ensuring that education becomes accessible to many Ghanaians resonates with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision to see that majority of the citizenry enjoy education so as to reduce poverty and create wealth.
“it is an undeniable fact that with the introduction of the free Senior High School policy, over 90,000 students who risked dropping out of school due to financial difficulties have had the chance of being in school.
As disclosed by the President when he addressed the 72nd session of the United Nations' General Assembly meeting in New York last year, the policy is in line with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals aimed at promoting learning activities for all irrespective of geographical area or class,” Mr Agyemang stated.
He continued, “with the free SHS in place, the future looks bright for Ghana because a literate society means a better and prosperous Ghana. For me I am not surprised with the massive commendation our President has received from all over the world for prioritizing education. The recent endorsement from the Executive Director of the United Nations International Children’s Fund shows President Nana Akufo-Addo is doing something very right.”
Mr Agyemang further explained to the media that the secretariat had cleared arrears owed Ghanaian students studying on Government of Ghana scholarships in worldwide.
It can be recalled that Ghanaian students, over the years, have expressed their displeasure over challenges they are made to go through in that country due to a seeming abandonment by the government of Ghana.
Attempts by previous governments to address the problem have proven futile.
“As I speak to you now, four months arrears, that is from January to April has been paid leaving just the month of May outstanding,” he said, adding, this is the first time in ten years that a government has done this.
Mr Agyemang disclosed that government had released $4.7 million for tuition, accommodation and meals for the medical students in Cuba for the 2016/17 academic year.
The move was appreciated by the Ghanaian students in Cuba, who through a release commended the Secretariat for heeding to their calls.
The commendation was contained in a letter addressed to the Registrar of the Secretariat by Nyarko Quansah, President of the National Union of Ghana Students in Cuba.
Mr Quansah, stated in a release that, though the issue of delay in stipends had been a recurring challenge students have harshly been faced with for a couple of years now, including its unbearable economic hardships to the students, however, “we cannot overlook the fact that, in recent times, there has been a massive response from your office in solving catastrophic event of delay in payment of students. This has led to the payment of all accumulated arrears, both maintenance and book allowance of the previous year.”
According to Mr Agyemang, his recent visit to Algeria, the first time a Registrar of the Scholarship Secretariat had visited the country to check on Ghanaian students on government scholarship, was very fruitful.
“The visit was a very important exercise. I used the opportunity to meet with officials of the Algerian Ministry of Education and take a second look at the various scholarship programmes in operation, to ensure that they fit in to Ghana’s development agenda,” he stated.
He revealed that during the visit, ten months’ worth of student payment arrears had been cleared, including books and health allowances.
With recent visits to the secretariat by the various dignitaries including the Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, Alicia Rico; a delegation from China Scholarship Council; The Hungarian Ambassador, Turkish Ambassador to Ghana, Nesrin Bayazit; a delegation from the Cuban Medical Services, as well as the outgone Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, the Registrar expressed optimism that the Secretariat would embark on more educational tours to countries to sign Memorandum of Understanding to gain more educational scholarships and opportunities which would not require counterpart funding from government of Ghana.
Looking Beyond the horizon
“We will cast the net wider because I am of the firm belief that vast opportunities exist out there for our students. We will take advantage of it. Education is a right regardless of where one comes from and we must ensure that this right is upheld,” according to Mr Agyemang.
He continued, “Scholarships are a vital tool for national development, no question about that. We have had cases of people cutting off their dreams because they could not get financial support to fund their education. This must not be allowed to continue. Every individual, if given the chance to pursue their dreams, can contribute to the development of the country.”
He further disclosed that the Secretariat was working with the Association of Ghana Industries to make Ghana a labour bank in the sub region as practiced in Cuba where students upon successful completion of their studies can be exported to other countries to bring their expertise to bare.
“What this means is that any foreign investor coming into the country would collaborate with the AGI, meaning all students who undertook courses in the investor’s country would be the first port of call,” Mr Agyemang said.
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