The ESBECANS is 30 Years Old, Hurraaayyy!

Feature Article of Friday, 19 April 2013

Columnist: Kingson, Jorge

The ESBECAN-The Cuban Trained Ghanaian Graduates Association is 30 years old. In view of that, a comprehensive programme has been line up for the launch of the Anniversary Celebration which also marks 30 years of Cuban educational scholarship to Ghanaian students. The theme for the celebration is, Selfless and Reliable Service for Nation Building.

The Celebrations include a route match in remembrance of fallen colleagues and actors in the program, Community Social Responsibility activities (Free Medicare, Adoption and development of Schools and many more). The programme is expected to start on Saturday April 20, 2013 with a route match from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle through some major streets of Accra; then a convergence at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum soon after that.

In 1981, President Hilla Limann, before his overthrow, sent eight students to Cuba on a Government Scholarship. The program stalled.

In 1983, after a number of consultations between officials of the Government of Ghana (PNDC) and that of the Cuban Government, 607 Ghanaian students were shipped off to Cuba, to start what later became known as the Kwame Nkrumah School, ESBEC # 22 on the Isle of Youth in Cuba, as part of the Cuban Scholarship Programme, under former President Rawlings.

Prior to the aforementioned 15 students were sent in 1982 (not to the Isle of Youth but to Mainland Cuba) under the same regime to pursue various courses in Universities in Cuba.

In all, over 1,500 Ghanaian students graduated from various institutions in Cuba and have, over the years, contributed immensely to Ghana’s national development, while their compatriots abroad have equally excelled in their chosen fields. Talk of hard work, resilience, selflessness, patriotic spirit, and you would be talking about the hallmark of Cuban Trained Ghanaian Graduates, who are currently found in all sectors of the economy and in many fields of endeavours, contributing their quota to nation building.

To mention but a few, Hon. Kweku Tanikyi Kesse, MP for Evalue Gwira, Hon. Dr. Hanna Louisa Bisiw, MP for Tano South & Deputy Minister for Food & Agriculture, Mr. Roger Klogo, Managing Director, Tanink Group of Companies, Mr. George Smith-Graham, CEO, Fair Wages & Salaries Commission, Mr. Samuel Afari-Dartey, CEO, Forestry Commission, Dr. Abdul-Samed Tanko, Consultant Cardiologist, National Cardio-Thoracic Centre, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Ahmed Zakaria, Director, National Ambulance Service, Mr. Winfred Kinsley Afful, Business Development Manager, Multichoice Ghana Ltd., Mr. Ohene Karikari, Deputy Director General, National Sports Authority and many others in many sensitive public and private institutions in and outside Ghana.

The enormous contribution made by Cuban Trained Ghanaian Graduates who returned home to serve their country, convinced subsequent governments of both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) under former President Kuffour and the late President John Evans Atta Mills respectively, to continue sending students to Cuba for training, including the 250 Medical students sent in May 2012.

The serious adaptation challenges faced by the first batch of students who were sent to the Isle of Youth, including the unfortunate demise of some students, as well as the discrimination and outright rejection faced by the first batch of graduates who returned to Ghana, rather spurred them on to reach greater heights in order to be able to repay what the people of Ghana invested in them.

The 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Cuban Scholarship Program therefore presents a great opportunity to take stock of how far they have come in spite of the enormous challenges of yesteryears and what the future holds for them, with regards to greater impact on Ghana, Africa and the rest of the world.