The Ghana Scholarship Secretariat in a press briefing in Sekondi on Thursday, 7th May 2020, gave an overview of their operations and workings. I think this was very important and timely to salvage the damaged image the secretariat suffered following the recent Auditor General’s report that revealed several underhand dealings and discriminatory acts going on at the secretariat.
The key highlight of the press briefing that was of interest to me, was the revelation that the Western Region and more specifically the Western North Region made the fewest entries in the ongoing online scholarship application. The secretariat expressed worry that in the over 75,000 applicants to the scholarship, the regions’ entry was woefully low and virtually went ahead to call on interested students from the region to apply before the deadline which is May 15th, 2020.
As a student and a resident of the Western North region, it is important that I bring to the fore the reasons behind this low patronage from the region and suggest measures to whip up the interest of students from the regions to apply for the scholarship. It is noteworthy to mention that the scholarship was meant for Ghanaians irrespective of their tribal or political background.
It is also right to assume that the scholarship secretariat and their selection processes leading to the award is devoid of political considerations and based purely on merit. Unfortunately, these assumptions cannot hold in the Western North Region flowing from what happened last year.
Firstly, the scholarship forms were in the possessing of the various Municipal and District Assemblies under the political control of the MDDCEs and were given out under a strange and selective mode with no public notice.
Secondly, there was another layer where this same assembly constituted a committee to interview the applicants and present a shortlist to the scholarship secretariat. This stage could be best described as a means of unmasking any unwanted applicant who was able to dodge the first block and had a form.
Thirdly, during last year’s interview at the various districts in the region, many students complained about the frustrations they went through, questions that required of them to declare their lineage or association with some key political personalities in their respective constituencies were posed to them. Questions about the awareness and operations of TESCON dominated the encounter.
Fourthly, at the end of the day, many students who were sure they qualified for the scholarship were not shortlisted and surprisingly some colleagues who did not attend the interviews mysteriously had the scholarship.
It is an undeniable fact that the Western North is NDC dominated region currently accounting for six (6) out of the nine (9) parliamentary seats in the region. This gives credence to the fact that more students were denied the scholarship last year owing to the modus operandi deployed as listed above.
It is therefore not surprising that many students in the region have lost interest in applying for this package even though a lot of them are in serious need of this package. Hence the very low entries from the region to the dismay of the secretariat.
As a measure to prevent the partisan discrimination associated with the scholarship, I suggest the secretariat must design a process to prevent the unfair shortlisting process that occurs at the District Assemblies.
Finally, scholarship Secretariat must give students their words as they are calling on these students to log on and complete the online process the shortlisting and awarding process will be fair and on merit.
WESTERN NORTH REGION.