THE government is reviewing scholarships awarded for study abroad to ensure that only critical courses not offered locally are given funding from the state.
The Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, who disclosed this at the 43rd congregation of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) over the weekend said, such courses must be critical for national development.
He said the measure was part of government’s efforts to rationalise the use of national resources.
He said in recent years, the nation appeared to have lost its sense of prioritisation in respect of funding students outside, and pledged the government’s commitment to ensure sanity in the award of scholarships.
The government’s decision comes a few days after about 350 Ghanaian students studying various foreign languages abroad cried out for support as funding from the state was not forthcoming.
The government had to respond quickly by releasing about US$2 million to save the situation.
The Vice-President said the government would continue to place emphasis on science and technology and would give priority in allocation of bursaries and scholarships to students who opted to pursue these programmes in tertiary institutions within and outside Ghana.
Mr Mahama also announced that the administration of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) was to be decentralised to help improve upon prioritisation of the fund.
He said since its establishment over a decade ago, the GETFund had become the main source of funding for provision of infrastructure in educational institutions.
He said regrettably, over the last years, the fund had been overcommitted, leading to a shortage of funds for the required accelerated educational infrastructural development.
This, he said, was evidenced in the numerous slow moving and uncompleted structures littered over campuses all over the country, and said it was to improve the situation that the government intended to decentralise its administration to improve upon its prioritisation.
The Vice-President announced that the government had allocated GH¢3.7 million to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) from the GETFund for the 2009 financial year to enable the university to complete its ongoing projects on campus.
In all, 900 graduates from the College of Social Sciences were presented with certificates last Saturday in the last batch of the 43rd congregation ceremony, which was organised in 10 batches this year. The last batch of graduates were from the Faculty of Law, Business School and School of Graduate Studies.
He entreated the new graduates to accept postings to the hinterlands during their national service to have a first-hand experience of real life situation.
He added that the government was aware of the continuous efforts made by the KNUST to ensure that its academic programmes and research projects fulfil the needs and aspirations of the country.
Mr Mahama said introduction of such programmes as Petroleum Engineering, Agribusiness and Extension, Landscape Design and Management, Real Estate, Veterinary Medicine and others were not only timely, but also capable of addressing contemporary challenges of the nation.
The Vice Chancellor of the KNUST, Professor Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa, said the university was aiming at growing the proportion of postgraduate students which stood from 10 per cent to about 30 per cent over the next five years.
The Vice Chancellor said as a policy, all departments that did not run postgraduate programmes would be required to do so before the end of the next academic year.
In a motivational speech, Mr Alfred Sakyi, Head of Consumer Finance at Ecobank Ghana, urged the authorities to incorporate the culture of entrepreneurship into the educational system.
He said there was also the need to set up an entrepreneurial fund and identify entrepreneurial graduates and assist them to open their own businesses.
He said if that was done, the university would be able to train “employers instead of employees which is currently the situation”.
On behalf of Ecobank Ghana, he donated GH¢3,000 to support research activities at the KNUST Business School.