By Maxwell Ofori .
The Registrar of the Scholarship Secretariat, Mr Kingsley Agyemang says government is in the process of decentralising the application process so that more students throughout Ghana will be able to apply for scholarships.
Mr Agyemang disclosed this after the Scholarship Secretariat officials met with Frank Annor-Dompreh, Member of Parliament for Nsawam/Adoagyiri in the Eastern Region.
The programme was to provide information to students in his constituency who were unaware of the scholarship programme, as well as to give them the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge, regarding the activities of the Scholarship Secretariat, originally established in 1960 by Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah.
Mr Agyemang mentioned that the Secretariat had undergone transformation since the Akufo-Addo-led government took up the reins of power.
Some of the changes are; access to basic facilities such as computers and office equipment, which was not available previously, which made it more difficult for his office to share scholarship information with students.
“Considering how important the Scholarship Secretariat is, my team and I made it a point that the Secretariat should be given all that it needs to enable it to discharge its work well for the benefit of all Ghanaians,” Mr Agyemang said.
He disclosed that District Scholarships Review Committee would be instituted at the districts, with the composition to be announced later.
According to him, the work of the Committee will be to receive applications, shortlist applicants and conduct interviews in line with guidelines that would be submitted from the secretariat’s head office.
“All these are to ensure transparency, accessibility and equity in the scholarship process,” the Registrar stated.
Over the years, the Secretariat has witnessed a huge number of students trooping to its offices seeking scholarship, a situation that puts pressure on the staff of the office.
The Registrar assured firmly that the decentralisation of the Secretariat’s activities will address all these.
“Once we take our activities down to the districts level, the burden of people coming all the way from Paga, Aflao and Axim just to access scholarship will be a thing of the past.
People should not be made to go through this stress. Wherever they are in any part of Ghana, they should be able to apply for scholarship, without necessarily coming here to see the Registrar or my assistant,’ he said.
Mr Agyemang hinted of a National Scholarship Aptitude Test which would be used as another means of shortlisting applicants for award of scholarship.
“This is the equity aspect. With this aptitude test, applicants are assured that their selection will be based on merit and not favouritism or whom you know. This is to ensure an equitable distribution of the ‘scholarship’ cake,” he said.
He also made mention of a Local Tertiary Scholarship Fund, introduced by government, which would be used to pay the tuition fees of eligible applicants in the local tertiary enclave.
The local tertiary institutions include; nursing training colleges, colleges of education, technical universities, polytechnics, university colleges, universities, accredited post-secondary schools and other diploma awarding institutions.
The Registrar also disclosed that the Akufo-Addo government has settled an outstanding debt of GHC128 million owed by the Secretariat.
“Paying off this money has ensured that students have peace of mind so they can focus on their work. President Akufo-Addo values education so much that he thought it was important to take care of this, so he took care of the situation and allocated the necessary funds to pay off this debt,” Mr Agyemang said.
MP Frank Annor-Dompreh expressed happiness with the decision of the Secretariat to decentralise its activities. He had been a long time advocate for decentralisation of scholarships and said Mr Agyemang’s decision was in the country’s interest.
Mr Annor-Dompreh advised students in the Nsawam/Adoagyiri District to take advantage of scholarship schemes in the country to further their education and also commended the President for his vision to introduce the free Senior High School policy.