‘Rot’ At Scholarship Secretariat, Minority Calls For Forensic Audit
…Minority Calls For Forensic Audit
A deputy ranking member on the Education Committee of Parliament has hinted that “something fishy” is going on at the Scholarship Secretariat that requires an immediate investigation and forensic audit into the activities of the secretariat to unravel the issues.
Dr. Clement Apaak said Ghanaian students studying abroad who are beneficiaries of government scholarship are going through hard times, because they are not being paid their stipends.
According to him, what is more intriguing is that people who do not deserve the scholarship, but allegedly benefitted, are rather the ones receiving regular payments to the detriment of those staying abroad and suffering.
“But those who are not to be given the scholarship because they don’t merit it get theirs regularly, what does that tell you? Something fishy is going on. It is not only students in the UK, it is affecting all Ghanaian students staying abroad. Even Ghanaian students in the country who are beneficiaries of the scholarship are not being paid,” he said.
Speaking on Oyerepa TV on Thursday, August 31, 2023, Dr. Apaak, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South constituency in the Upper East Region, said the minority expects government to launch a swift investigation into the development to ensure forensic accuracy.
“What we [the minority] expect is that there ought to be a forensic audit at the Scholarship Secretariat. As a member of parliament and somebody who is interested in education, I understand the plight of Ghanaians staying abroad. So how come Ghanaian scholarship students abroad don’t get their money as it’s supposed to be paid? he quizzed.
The Anchor has observed, this is not the first time the office of the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat, headed by Kingsley Agyemang, is in the news over reports of alleged irregular or non-payment of stipends for Ghanaian students studying abroad.
The Anchor, in its earlier publication, reported how some of the affected students, particularly those in Cuba, have had to depend on colleague students from other countries for assistance in order to survive so that their academic work is not threatened.
One of the distressed students, in a recent interview, described the situation as “hell.”
“Currently, we are living in hell. Why do I have to say that? I have to borrow money from other people before we survive, and if I borrow money from you and I come back again, naturally you are not going to give me because I have not paid the earlier one, I borrowed.
“Other people now have girlfriends who have enough money to help them out in this current dispensation. I myself I am part.
“I am going out with a lady who comes from a good home and she is virtually the one taking care of me at the moment. I know about 15 other people and I am sure there are more that I don’t know of,” the distressed student said.
He continued, “So assuming if the money does not come this month, then it means if there is a place beyond hell that is where we will be. We will be in absolute distress, we are already depressed, our academic is going deteriorate, the worst is going to happen to the over 100 students on the ticket of government of Ghana.”
The distressed students, who spoke in an interview on 3FM’s morning show with Johnnie Hughes, said they are in a very difficult situation. The situation, the students explained, is largely hampering academic work.
The students, who feel neglected, in an SOS message, are calling on government, especially the Scholarship Secretariat, to, as a matter of urgency, release funds to resume payment immediately.
The Anchor has gathered that the students, numbering 100, have been without their monthly support from government for about eight months, thus making survival in that faraway country extremely difficult.
Another anonymous student said money to purchase even soap has become a problem and so, after class, the only thing on their minds is how they are going to survive the rest of the day.
Some of them who were academically brilliant have begun doing terribly in class, as a result of the anxiety and depression that has engulfed them because of the non-payment of the stipends.
One of the students, in a text message, said, “Please, I am a Ghanaian medical student on scholarship in Cuba sponsored by the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat (Scholsec). It has been almost 8 months now and we haven’t received our stipends. Cuba as a country is going through a lot of restrictions and crisis due to the US embargo. Getting food to eat has even become a burden for us.
“Right from the hospital, the next thing you think of is what and how to eat. Life is getting worse each and every day, foreigners are not allowed to work, so our only means of survival is solely on the government stipends. We hope to use your platform to amplify our predicaments.”
Another student, in a telephone chat with 3FM’s Johnnie Hughes, said efforts to reach the Ghana embassy to Cuba have yielded no result yet. He said the embassy appears helpless as they continue to assure them they will find solution to their plight, but to no avail.
“Embassy in Cuba we keep on communicating with them and what they keep telling us is that they are working on it, they are contacting their sponsors and up till now for the past seven months with the inclusion of February, that will be eight months that is what they keep on telling us,” they said.
The students said money to purchase certain basic necessities of life making them feel rejected and lonely. They said the political situation in Cuba, as a result of an embargo put on that country by the United States (US), has toughened the situation.
“We feel rejected, we feel lonely, we feel very depressed, a lot of things are going on here, a whole lot of things. Even getting money to buy soap to bath, all these basic necessities of life, we are lacking them here in Cuba and you already know the embargo that has been placed on Cuba so even getting these things is something else that we have to go through. It’s a very tough,” they lamented.
Another student said aside from the stipends, it is impossible to get support from family and friends outside of Cuba, because the system does not allow that.
The students appealed to the authorities, especially the Scholarship Secretariat, to come to their aid because failure to do that will worsen an already bad situation.