Kamil Sanah, GNA
Accra, June. 30, GNA - Mr Kingsley Agyemang, the Registrar of the Ghana Scholarships Secretariat, said one of the most effective tools to accelerate national development is through the award of scholarships to not just brilliant and needy individuals, but deserving ones as well.
At a media briefing in Accra, Mr Agyemang said, as head of an institution that is supposed to complements government efforts in promoting education across the country, he would ensure that the secretariat meets its expectations, irrespective of one’s social background.
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 apply for scholarship provided they meet the requirements.
“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”.
“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.
He said education is a human right, like other human rights and cannot be taken for granted, adding that across the world, 59 million children and 65 million adolescents are out of school.
This figures he said was very alarming, indicating 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.
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.
He said it is an undeniable fact that with the introduction of the free Senior High School (SHS) policy, over 90,000 students who risked dropping out of school due to financial difficulties have had the chance of being in school.
He said President Akufo-Addo in his addressed to the 72nd session of the United Nations' General Assembly meeting in New York last year disclosed that the free SHS policy was 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 Ghana’s future with the free SHS looks bright as every literate society means a better and prosperous one.
“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 that the secretariat had cleared arrears owed Ghanaians students studying on Government of Ghana scholarships worldwide.
“It will 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 from January to April has been paid leaving just the month of May outstanding, this is the first time in ten years that a government has done this”.
He 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.
This move he said was appreciated by the Ghanaian students in Cuba, through a press release signed by Mr Nyarko Quansah, President of the National Union of Ghana Students in Cuba commending the Secretariat for heeding to their calls.
According to him, 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.
“During my visit, 10 months student payment arrears had been cleared, including books and health allowances”.
He said, recent visits to the secretariat by some respective 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
Mr Agyemang was of the firm belief that there were vast opportunities existing out there for Ghanaian students which the secretariat will take advantage and noted that education was a right regardless of where one comes from and must ensure that this right is upheld.
He said: “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.”
The Registrar 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 on them.GNA