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Opinions of Thursday, 15 August 2013

Columnist: Donkor, Maxwell

Please come to the aid of stranded students


There is perhaps no worthier investment than when our dear nation commits itself to giving its youth the best of education. It is on the basis of this premise that the decision by GETfund and the government of Ghana for that matter, to send me and many other young people on scholarship here in the UK, is not only a worthy honor done us and our families, but an important investment into the human resource base of our country. However and sadly enough, this exercise which is intended to help us develop our skills and competencies enough to return home ready to contribute our quota to the development of our country, has almost become one of a suicide mission abroad for a lot of us.

Many young Ghanaians including myself on GETfund scholarship here in the UK find ourselves in a situation where our monthly stipends which are due us every month for our upkeep have not been paid since we arrived here in September 2012 to start our postgraduate studies. This situation has no doubt affected our lives in many ways, and is now threatening to derail the very purpose for which we were brought here. In a country where your survival is a matter of your own business, a lot of us have had to live on the benevolence of friends, whilst we continue to look forward to the day when our sponsor will discharge his basic duty of sending us our maintenance allowances.Most of us have found it extremely difficult to put body and soul together, whilst our overdue indebtedness to school accommodation has thrown us out of school accommodation facilities, and now we have had to put up with friends. With deadlines for the submission of our thesis looming, and having been denied access to school library facilities due to our inability to pay accommodation bills, the likelihood that a lot of us may not be able to submit our thesis is very high.

What is even killing in all of this is the fact that we cannot make contact with the very authorities who offered to sponsor our studies abroad. For several months now, no official at the GETfund would reply our numerous emails or offer to speak on the telephone to listen our cries for help. Way back in June this year, a deputy minister of information announced at a daily press briefing at the Flag Staff House that the president had issued a directive, following a cabinet decision, to GETfund to settle all outstanding monies due to students on government scholarship. Subsequent to this, at the beginning of July, the deputy minister of education (tertiary) gave an assurance that government had made available enough funds to GETfund to pay all our outstanding stipends. The obvious questions on the lips of many of us down here are: what has become of all these high-profile assurances? Was there a presidential directive to GETfund to pay our stipends, and if there was, were the president’s orders carried out to bring relief to suffering sons and daughters of our land on a foreign soil?

This is the story of how the good intentions of our government to invest in its people, is suddenly becoming one of a suicide mission; a situation that will not only derail our ability to obtain our degrees and return back home, but one which can kill us down here if immediate efforts are not made to come to our aid. It is my humble prayer and appeal, that a good Samaritan in government or GETfund, or any position of public responsibility, will find reason to act now in order to rescue the perishing souls of I and my other colleagues on GETfund scholarship here in the UK.

Maxwell Donkor