The Graduates Patriotic Front (GRAPAF), a body of public universities’ graduate students in the country, has appealed to President John Mahama to as a matter of urgency instruct the Ministry of Finance and the Scholarships Secretariat to pay graduate students their bursary and research grants.
GRAPAF has also called on various stakeholders in postgraduate education delivery such as the Ministry of Education, the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), Vice Chancellors Ghana (VCG), and University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) ‘to add their voice to our call on government to immediately release the funds allocated for the purposes of paying bursary and research grants.’
It indicated that ‘This, we think, will support such students to complete their research work on time to avoid any issue of extension, which now attracts full payment of fees instead of the previous research levy.’
Grants in Arrears
GRAPAF, in a press statement released Wednesday by its Communication Director, Raymond Ayilu Kwojori, and copied to DAILY GUIDE, stated that graduate students’ bursary and research allowances have been in arrears since the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government took over power and that the development has made it difficult for most students to complete their academic research as a result of lack of funding.
The annual bursary and thesis grants are among five (5) types of scholarships for local public universities and polytechnics under the local tertiary scholarship awards of the Scholarships Secretariat of the Republic of Ghana. The Secretariat was established in January, 1960 as an extra-ministerial body under the Office of the President.
Its main role is to administer and exercise central control over scholarship awards for capacity building so as to ensure effective manpower support for the national development agenda.
The thesis grants are payments made to PhD, MPhil and MA/Postgraduate Diploma students working on their research for one academic year, while the bursary grants are paid uniformly across board annually to mitigate the course cost of postgraduate education.
The conception of these grants and allowances, according to GRAPAF, ‘demonstrates the fact that governments over the years appreciate the significance of postgraduate education and research to our national economy.’
The Graduates Patriotic Front therefore wondered ‘why the payment of the grants, which has been fixed as low as GH¢450 for Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Arts (MA) students, as well as GH¢470 and GH¢700 for Master of Philosophy and PhD students respectively’, had been delayed.
Capitation Grants, Others
Other delays that are equally worrying, according to GRAPAF, are the delays in releasing ‘grants to second cycle institutions, the payment of capitation grants to public basic schools, supply of teaching and learning materials such as lesson notes’ books, registers and chalk.’
It further noted that these, coupled with the ‘refusal to pay teacher trainee allowances, are a clear demonstration of the fact that the government is not committed to the youth of this country as [the NDC] sensibly portrayed in the run-up to the 2012 elections.’
BY Melvin Tarlue
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