General News of Monday, 21 January 2013

Source: Al-Hajj

GETFund Abandons Ghanaian Students Abroad?

By A A Yayra

Some Ghanaian Students on government scholarship to study Medicine, Oil and Gas and other related courses abroad are said to be stranded in their various study countries as the state is alleged to have refused and/ or, unable to extend to them agreed stipends.

The students, who are thought to include the 250 Ghanaians sent to Cuba to study various branches of Medicine and others studying Economics, Oil and Gas etc relevant to the nation’s current socio-economic development are dotted in various institutions in China, Turkey, Russia, and United Kingdom among other countries

Some of the students, who spoke to The Al-Hajj in separate telephone interviews, noted that under the scholarship arrangement, government of Ghana through the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund) and the Scholarship Secretariat was to foot their bills which include return air-tickets, travel allowance and monthly stipends.

According to one of the stranded students “For some time now, anytime we go to the embassy we are told our monies are not in yet…we have to borrow money for basic necessities like food, soap, cream and transportation…we are suffering here; what officials of GETFund are doing is woefully unacceptable”. The student, who pleaded on condition of anonymity admonished that should government fail to come to their aid, they may be compelled to abandon their courses as the suffering is becoming unbearable.

A parent, whose son is studying in the London School of Economics on government scholarship called into the Mamobi office of The Al-Hajj wailing “If GETFund and government of Ghana thinks they don’t have money to take care of our children, they should bring them back home for us, rather than keeping them there stranded and disgracing the country …it is not by force to send our children to the London school of Economics.”

According to the parent, the students have exhausted all monies with them and are likely to stop attending lectures in their various Universities and also face possible ejection from their various apartments due to Scholarship Secretariat and the GETFund’s inability to remit them. “Another parent bellowed “my only son is currently stranded in Cuba; I don’t know what to do now. Why are GETFund and the government treating my son like this? If they know they can no longer take care of his upkeep, they should bring him back to me peacefully. I’m not ready to lose my son”

Another, who claims her ward, has also been abandoned in Turkey threatened to nakedly storm the office of GETFund just to let them know “they can’t sit in Ghana and refuse to send monies due my child”

The government of Ghana last year sent 250 students selected from across the country to Cuba to study medicine. The students were beneficiaries of a collaborative effort between the Governments of Ghana and Cuba. Ghana has since independence sponsored students to study various courses abroad and currently has over 1000 them reading various undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Reports are that, some of the students are planning to embark on series of demonstrations starting this week to drum home their frustrations. But in a sharp response, the caretaker Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of Scholarship who is also a former Member of Parliament for Kpandai constituency, Kojo Tawiah Likpalimor refuted the allegations, adding “it is not true that the 250 students in Cuba are stranded because their bursaries were not forth coming.” He explained that some students are warded admission by foreign universities under the pretext of getting them jobs whiles pursuing their program of study, but are faced with the stack reality of deceit and they have to fall on the various embassies. “Government has nothing to do with those category of students, you can’t blame their woes on government…they went there on their own…even in cases where the Ministry of Finance delays in sending monies to students on government scholarship, we ask the embassies there to foot their bills and later, we make payment into their account. The Minister added that, some students are on bilateral scholarship, which he said is totally different from the Cuba deal. “For the bilateral scholarship, the countries offers as limited scholarships; let say about 20 slots, they take care of the tuition fees whiles government of Ghana pays for the upkeep of beneficiaries” he explained

He noted that, the Ministry of Finance has approved funds due students on bilateral scholarship which by next week will be send to the embassies, adding “the 250 students in Cuba don’t have problems with funds. In fact I was even told that some of them even sent 200 dollars to their parents in Ghana.”

The immediate past Member of Parliament for Kpandai constituency quizzed “if you say the students in Cuba are stranded because government had failed to disburse funds for their tuition fees and allowance, why will some of them send money to their parents in Ghana.

Attempts to reach the GETFund Administrator, Mr. Sam Garbah as at press time proved futile as his phone was switched off.