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General News of Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Source: kasapafmonline.com

Decentralize Scholarship Secretariat – MP tells Akufo-Addo

NPP MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, Hon. Frank Annor, is calling for decentralization of the Scholarship Secretariat to enable citizens across the country, especially, those in the hinterlands, have equal access to the facility.

He therefore wants an extension of the offices of the Scholarship Secretariat in all the ten regions with the objective of bringing the services of the Secretariat to the doorsteps of the people.

In his view, the absence of the offices of the Scholarship Secretariat across the country has denied so many brilliant but needy students access to Government of Ghana scholarship facility to upgrade themselves in various academic fields.

The situation, he said, has left a few people in the cities, especially, those in the capital, Accra, to access the facility much to the detriment of the masses.

“Mr.Speaker, in all the cases of awarding the scholarship, centralization seems to be restricting access to the facility. For instance, the scholarship award is intended to provide financial support to brilliant but needy students whose parents/guardians are financially handicapped. Manifestly, many financially handicapped parents reside in remote areas of our country with their brilliant but need kids. Many of such people have never been to the Nation’s capital and as such, do not know of the existence of the scholarship facility or even if they do, they are unfamiliar with the process of procuring the application forms. Some simply do not have the money to travel to Accra for the forms. That means that by its location alone, we have failed to make the agency accessible to the very people who are supposed to benefit from it. Additionally, they are put at a disadvantage of competing with other needy students who are closer to Accra or know some influential people who can follow up on the application forms for them,” he noted.

He added “According to the official website of the agency, in accessing the scholarship award, parents/guardians collect the forms from the Scholarship Secretariat for completion and endorsement by school heads and DCEs and returned. Many of our village folks have no relations resident in Accra who can readily accommodate them when they come to pick up the scholarship forms. Again, very few can afford to lodge in any hotel in Accra. In the event, a huge proportion of those who qualify and require the assistance are cut off. Better services could be rendered to our people by making the Secretariat available in all regions and possibly, districts, first to increase accessibility and second to broaden the scope of the award to the door-steps of the very people the award is instituted for.”

Hon. Dompreh made this observation in a statement he delivered on the floor of Parliament, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in relation to the centralization of the operations of the Secretariat.

Commenting further, he said a decentralized system will also allow for the speedy processing of the forms, adding “closeness to real needy students will establish more fairness in the disbursement of awards because there will be people on the ground to verify those who really qualify for the award.”

Continuing, Hon. Dompreh expressed worry about the absence of a legal framework to regulate the operations of the Scholarship Secretariat. He has therefore called for the introduction of a Bill which if passed by Parliament into an Act, will govern the operations of the Scholarship Secretariat.

“The operations of the Secretariat do not appear to be regulated by any statute. Everything appears to be at the discretion of the National Coordinator. It is imperative that the Presidency weans itself off the Secretariat and allows an independently constituted body to run the agency. This will ensure that expected political influences are reduced to the barest minimum,” he stressed.
NDC MP for North Tongu, Hon. Samuel Okujeto Ablakwa also contributing to the statement proposed that the decentralization of the Secretariat be done with technology to remove the human face from the operations of the Secretariat.