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General News of Tuesday, 25 February 2020


Surcharge public officials awarded GETFund scholarships – GRASAG

Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Sarah Adwoa Safo are two minister whose name appeared on the list Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Sarah Adwoa Safo are two minister whose name appeared on the list

The Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG) has said it is dismayed by the abuse of discretionary powers of the Board of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) Secretariat which has culminated in the award of scholarships to undeserving people in society.

The key objective of the GETFund is to provide financial support (scholarship) for needy students as stated by the Section 2 (2b) of Act 581. Section 2, Clause (b) states that: ‘GETFund is to provide supplementary funding to the Scholarship Secretariat for the grant of scholarships of gifted but needy students for studies in the second cycle and accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana’.

However, GRASAG said persons of influence and individuals with much political exposure have hijacked this important objective of the Secretariat at the expense of the poor taxpayer on whose behalf the fund was established.

This comes after it was revealed that top government officials like Education Minister Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Procurement Minister Sarah Adwoa Safo, NaCCA boss Dr Prince Armah, among a host of others, have benefited from GETFund awards from 2012 to date.

Reacting to this revelation, GRASAG, in a statement, said there is enormous evidence that many brilliant-but-poor students are denied scholarships because they lack political connections.

“It is really unconscionable that sitting Members of Parliament and other public officials will even put themselves up to be considered for scholarship meant for needy students. This is the evidence of impunity with which the political class has carefully been orchestrating against the masses in this country,” GRASAG stated.

“To the extent that these public officials did not go through any robust competitive selection process before receiving their scholarships is enough grounds to ask them to refund the said amount and we call on the attorney general and the office of the special prosecutor to investigate the circumstances that resulted in this malicious abuse of office by these public officials,” the statement added.

The graduate students say there is 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 can be handled by the many accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana.

It said allowing GETFund to continue awarding scholarships without recourse to the Scholarships Secretariat amounts to the duplicity of functions and must be curtailed to the barest minimum.

GRASAG noted that it is following the issue keenly and will not relent on its push for reforms until it has seen reforms in the administration of scholarships in the country.

In the group’s view, public funds must not be used for the benefit of a few individuals with political connection and influence while the masses wallow in abject poverty and uncertainties.

“At this point, GRASAG stands by the recommendations of the Auditor- General for GETFund to abide by Section 2 (2b) of the GETFund Act and give funds to Scholarships Secretariat for the administration of local scholarships and desist from administering foreign scholarships. We also call for the prosecution and sanctioning of public officials, both past and present, who have, unfairly, benefited from scholarships meant for brilliant-but-needy students as well as officials who approved these scholarships.”