Where does government get money to offer scholarships to Ghanaians to study abroad? Sena Agbale
Why would a highly partisan government respect the rules? Patronage has consumed our society to the point that there is the need for a drastic measure to correct these things before they consume us all.
An extraordinary scholastic success story from an unimaginable place – Hohoe in Ghana. With all due respect to the president, I am sure that if his Fullbright Scholarship, for which we are all proud, was disbursed in the way and manner scholarships in Ghana have been disbursed in Ghana under his watch, I bet he would have been a professor today. Dr. Kludze wouldn’t have also been a space engineer today.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Born in Hohoe and arrived in the US in 1980 after high school. Illustrate no matter your place of birth or ethnicity. Mobile phones alone contribute US$56 billion to Africa’s economy. In Ghana, there are 21 million connections 88% penetration 2% of GDP and 10% of Government income.
We are all beneficiaries of satellite communication in many ways – personal communication, transfer of knowledge, mobile operations and so on.
Using the name of the state to offer scholarships and other public goods to families, friends, and party apparatchiks. You are complaining because you didn’t get anything. Yes, I am dissatisfied about the mode of distribution of these public goods and have the right to draw public attention to these forms of manipulation. In this regard, there is no difference between the NDC and the NPP. It has only been change of faces and not change of policy.
I still remember the death of four young men on that on that fateful May 11, 1995 when the protest against the Value Added Tax (VAT) turned bloody. But in the end, it has been passed. Unfortunately, not for the benefit of those who resisted it because they were going to contribute the most, but to the benefit of the rich, their cronies, party apparatchiks, and gamily members.
The contributions to the fund come from every Ghanaian including you and I, and the Kayayei. If scholarships are to increase our alternatives and opportunities, can we say they have had any implications for these individuals?
Why was Fosuaba Banahene, the administrator of GEFTund under the NPP sacked? Did that change anything? Certainly, a change of government in future will see the current occupant of that post out. Is anyone here who knows what the criteria is for the award of Ghana Government scholarships? People are even getting scholarships to pursue English for beginners under the NDC, a party that was on the rooftops condemning these forms of manipulations.
There is no doubt the US graduate schools use the GRE/GMAT/LSAT to set admission baselines. Though known to be skewed against some geographical regions, it ensures some platform is provided to close the door against low standards. The UK on the other hand is about the ability to afford the fees. There are cases of individuals with Teachers cert. “A” and 4 years teaching experience from Ghana being offered a Master’s programs and so on.
We cannot continue with the status quo, it is holding our development back. Lets all take a deep breath and question where we are heading with this sort of mediocrity on the back of the taxpayer.
I encouraged the winner of the best student West Africa award (1994) and best science student from Ghana award (1996) for us to meet the then Education Minister, Mr. Harry Sawyer to make a request for scholarship, since there was no information anywhere about any Ghana Government scholarship of the sort. Mr. Sawyer did not volunteer to assist, he said all scholarships had been removed to the Castle, so we could go to the castle, the seat of Government. Being who he is, the gentleman decided not to push any further. Years on, when he was still looking for funding for his specialist training in Biomedical Informatics, here was a well-connected J.S.S teacher and a housemate of mine whose scholarship was offered to her simply by a phone from the husband to GETFund. She was reading Gender Studies. The physician is now a specialist by the benevolence of the American taxpayer. The teacher is a Northerner and the physician an Ewe! This happened both under the NPP and the NDC. I use this story to illustrate the weaknesses of the institutions, allowing personal interest to override national interest and merit. We can choose to continue in the circle of hatred disallowing reforms through the unalloyed support we offer our political parties from each side – “divide and conquer mentality” – which gives the politicians a blanket cheque to act with impunity or choose to turn our attention to these things.
If it cost a minimum of US$70, 000 to train one graduate in Gender Studies in an American University, obviously that amount can either be expended to expand facilities in Ghanaian universities to make room for more admissions or could be expended to train 10 of such individuals locally.
Wait till you get to parliament then you can work to change the rules. But let me tell you that the one who will speak the truth doesn’t need to be in parliament to speak the truth. A girl who failed her basic English exams twice, increasing funding by US$12, 000
British Commonwealth Scholarship, DfiD Scholarship, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Fulbright (cite the example of the president whose father was just a trained teacher).
Eastern scholarships were dispensed equitably based on competence, and academic strength but our own has become another platform for the advancement of corruption.
Can someone tell us how parliamentarians select those they sponsor, if not just based on “whom you know.” I have seen MPs expended their common fund in sponsoring their own nephews and friends without recourse to merit. Where does this common fund come from? It is your taxes and that is why you need to act now or never.
If you are moved by the stories, I urge you to provide your signature in support of this campaign. Ghanaians studying abroad, individuals working at GETFund, the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat should lookout for individuals who do not merit to study on our taxes but are doing so as a result of political manipulations and forward their names and particulars to email@example.com for further action. Lets not relent in our efforts to create a just and equitable society. Education is supposed to correct the unfair privileges and under-privileges and not to perpetuate them.
Purpose of Scholarships• To encourage
and reward academic excellence/promote teaching on university campuses• To assist brilliant but needy students who otherwise would have fallen through the cracks• Sponsorship in the hope that research breakthrough by talented beneficiaries would help society progress.
Credentials and Contribution• Dr. Ave
Kludze, a Ghanaian rocket scientist, first African to command spacecraft with NASA• Developed the Extravehicular Activity Infrared (EVA IR) camera for space-walking astronauts (it helps detect cracks and surface defects, space shuttle COLUMBIA)• Satellite Communication, e.g., cell phones and mobile technology
Award of Scholarships• GETFund +
Scholarship Secretariat = fronts for manipulations from the Castle• Family members, friends, party apparatchiks without academic potentials are beneficiaries, to the neglect of the most talented• They are unable to pass their exams and justify their inclusion
Cost for US Masters• Social
Science and Humanities US$70, 000 and minimum• Engineering and MBA range from US$100,000 minimum• Medicine can even be higher• Exigencies: US$15, 000 minimum
Undergraduate Cost• It can be
even more expensive at the undergraduate level, since you are multiplying any yearly cost x 4• Lets peg the minimum at US$150, 000
Two anecdotesC a n d
. A . M e d ic a l D r . M y H o us e ma te , C a nd .( n a m e w it h h e ld ) B 2005• Best Student West Africa • Second Class Lower 1994 • Gender Studies, Hull• Best Science Student University from Ghana 1996 • Experienced academic• President of the Medical difficulties School Association • Could not produce thesis• Top 97% Medical Board • Extension of program at Exam, USA (Internal extra cost to the taxpayer med) • J.S.S. Teacher• Sub-specialization
Spending on what we Produce•
Why would government sponsor scholarships in areas there are more qualifications than jobs?• Why would government waste in areas where people can be trained locally?
State of Affairs on Campuses•Academic
staff are being deniedscholarships with non-academic staffs(administrators) misappropriating thefacility to themselves.• The effect is they all jaunting aroundteaching classes when they should be intheir offices processing documents(documents that should take 30 minutesto process now take a week).•Issues of conflict of interest, etc., doesnot prick their dead conscience.
Best Practice• Scholarships are advertised
by awarding institutions, criteria well- defined, selection executed with rigor• Each stage of the process transparent, non-discriminatory, and aimed at the most qualified (reviews done blindly)• Devoid of government interference and manipulations.
Own Anecdote• Was admitted to
Ohio University on the strength of my qualifications without having to know anyone• Students do the initial selection of applications based on criteria outlined• Scholarships dispensed by professors based research interest and academic strength, not government and official manipulations
Action Plan• A call for
investigation into the award of all Government Scholarships in the last decade (under NPP and NDC).• Keeping government out of business of awarding Scholarships.• Transparency – members of awarding committee selected from student- appointees, civil society appointees/emphasis on blind review, etc.