The Auditor-General has indicted the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for breaching its mandate and “illegally” funding foreign scholarships.
A performance audit report from the Auditor-General sighted by Citi News said the GETFund Secretariat “breached the object of the fund and administered the scholarship themselves.”
According to the GETFund’s Annual Reports from 2012 to 2018, the secretariat spent GHS 425,698,937 on scholarships on 3,112 beneficiaries out of which 2,217 persons were unlawfully granted scholarships to study abroad.
The institution mandated to run a foreign scholarship scheme is the Scholarships Secretariat.
The Auditor-General concluded that the failings of the GETFund led to brilliant but needy students being deprived of scholarship in favour of politicians in some cases.
The report also said, “GETFund did not establish any systems, policies and procedures to ensure the economic, efficient and effective use of public funds.”
This led to the “imprudent administration of scholarships” between 2012 and 2018, the report said.
The Secretariat was also indicted for not instituting measures “to ensure scholarship expenditures stayed within scholarship budgets.”
It exceeded scholarship amounts by 300 percent from 2012 to 2014, the report noted as an example.
It also said the selection process was not robust enough, describing it as “unfair, dominated by one person and porous.”
“This allowed unqualified applicants to benefit rather than brilliant but needy Ghanaians as contemplated by Act 581,” the report stated.
Some politicians, for example, are listed as beneficiaries of GETFund scholarships.
The report noted that the current Education Minister, Matthew Opoku-Prempeh and the current Procurement Minister and Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament, Sarah Adwoa Safo benefitted from the scheme in the past.
This was however before they became government appointees.
The Procurement Minister is listed as having studied at the Harvard Kennedy School, benefiting from US$12,800 in allowances with US$17,004 in tuition fees.
Education Minister, Dr. Opoku Prempeh is noted to have participated in a course on National and International Security at Harvard University, where he received US$12,800 for living expenses and US$11,200 as tuition fees.
The Minister, in a statement, noted that he was the recipient of a GETFund award in 2014.
Reaction from GETFund
Reacting to the report, GETFund has said its mandate is not limited to solely serving needy but brilliant students in line with the GETFund Act 2000.
“The fund may, per its mandate, also provide support for other educational activities and programmes to serve strategic national interests.”
GETFund also noted that the scholarships were not awarded by the Fund’s current administration.