About 30,000 students across the country in various tertiary institutions have had their tuition fees paid under the District Scholarship Scheme run by the Ghana Scholarships Secretariat.
The fees range from GH¢850 for undergraduate students to GH¢34,000 for those pursuing postgraduate and doctoral programmes.
The country’s first district-level scholarship introduced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was launched at Takoradi in the Western Region in July this year.
It is to drive the government’s development agenda by empowering the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to award scholarships to not only needy, brilliant students but deserving ones as well.
With funds ranging from a minimum of GH¢60,000 to GH¢100,000 made available to the MMDAs, they received scholarships applications, organised selection interviews and made recommendations for the awards.
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Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Registrar of the Ghana Scholarships Secretariat, Mr Kingsley Agyemang, said the scheme was renewable annually for the beneficiaries but insisted that it was dependent on performance, good conduct and the availability of funds.
Mr Agyemang said after extensive interviews, about 30,000 students from the MMDAs, who qualified after appearing before the District Scholarship Review Committee, were given the scholarships.
The review committee comprised the chief executives of the assembly as the chairpersons, a representative from the traditional authorities, a representative from a tertiary institution or the Ghana Education Service in the district/municipality and two representatives who were appointed by the Ghana Scholarships Secretariat.
The beneficiary students are pursuing different programmes in several accredited post-secondary institutions, both private and public, leading to the award of diplomas to PhDs.
Mr Agyemang said that although there were some individuals who doubted the President when he gave an assurance that free meritorious tertiary education was possible and added that “today we have seen that Ghanaians voted for a President who ‘walks the talk’. Free meritorious tertiary education is a possibility and it is here to stay.”
He indicated that the current arrangement would ensure that scholarship opportunities were distributed nationwide to the needy, brilliant students through the MMDAs.
The Registrar said the new process, which would be an annual affair, would not only ensure accessibility but transparency as well.
The Registrar of Scholarships also gave an assurance that the decentralisation would carry everyone on board without discrimination.
He charged the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity.
He tasked the beneficiaries to pursue academic excellence to maintain their status on the award since the award was annually renewable.
Mr Agyemang revealed that there was research and conference allowances for students on scholarships doing their postgraduate doctoral programmes in the offing.
He said the decision would be communicated to all Ghana missions abroad for immediate implementation.
The package, he said, was also in line with the decision made by the National Accreditation Board and the Ministry of Education which required a doctoral degree as a prerequisite qualification for university teaching.
He said it was in that regard that the President had directed that the secretariat introduced what would be known as the Annual Research and Conference Allowances for PhD students.
He explained further that the funds, which would be accessible in January every year, would involve the PhD students applying to the secretariat to access funding.