The Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG) has called for the prosecution and sanction of public officials both past and present who abused their powers and shared scholarships meant for brilliant but needy students among the political class, the elite and the affluent in the society.
The students gave their backing to the recommendations of the Auditor-General for the Ghana Educational Trust Fund (GETFund) to abide by Section 2(2b) of the GETfund Act and give funds to the Scholarship Secretariat for the administration of local scholarships and desist from administering foreign scholarships
At a press conference in Accra yesterday to respond to the trending topic of politicians taking advantage of the GETFund scholarships to educate themselves abroad, Samuel Sagoe, President of GRASAG, said the Scholarship Secretariat was unable to give as much scholarship to poor Ghanaians because GETfund has stopped providing the supplementary funding to the Secretariat as required by law.
“We should not be happy and comfortable with the obvious abuse of the laws of Ghana with impunity by officials of the GETfund, “he said.
He said allowing the GETFund to continue awarding scholarships without recourse to the Scholarship Secretariat amounted to duplicity of functions and must be curtailed to the barest minimum.
Mr Sagoe said because GETFund was not abiding by its mandate, other agencies responsible for supporting students financially were unable to do so, saying, “for instance, the Students Loan Trust Fund is expected to receive about 10 per cent of the revenue accrued by GETfund to be able to serve students better but the amount is not forthcoming hence impeding the ability of SLTF to provide loans to poor students across the country.”
He said there was something untoward about how GETFund awarded scholarships to politically exposed individuals rather than brilliant but needy students as anticipated by Act 581 to study abroad, in subjects and programmes that could be handled by the many accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana.
“To the extent that these public officials did not go through any robust competitive selection process before receiving their scholarships was enough grounds to ask them to refund the amount,” he said.
Mr Sagoe said it was really unconscionable that sitting Members of Parliament and other public officials will even put themselves up to be considered for scholarships meant for needy students saying, “this is the evidence of impunity with which the political class and the elite in the society have carefully been orchestrating against the masses in this country.”
“There is enormous evidence that many brilliant but poor students are denied scholarships because they lack political connections,” he said.
He said it was an established fact that the award of scholarships in general did not necessarily mean the recipient must be needy, however one key objective of setting up the GETFund was to provide financial support (scholarship) for needy students as stated by section 2(2b) of act 581 which states “GETFund is to provide supplementary funding to the Scholarship Secretariat for the grant of scholarship of gifted but needy students for studies in the second cycle and accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana.”
He said it was therefore explicit that the GETFund could not go into business of retail award of scholarship in Ghana and so for the GETFund to award scholarship in the first place, ultra vires its mandate
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI