Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare, says there is the need for radical reforms in the management of scholarships at the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund).
According to GETFund’s Annual Reports from 2012 to 2018, the secretariat spent over four hundred million cedis on scholarships on 3,112 beneficiaries, out of which 2,217 persons were unlawfully granted scholarships to study abroad.
Commenting on the latest report, Mr. Asare said Ghanaians should demand accountability from the Secretariat.
“This audit report is actually an opportunity to catapult the need for reforms in the policy. It is time for civil society and the media to begin to raise the issue to try and get the attention of local authority towards reforming GETFund because what we need to do is to depoliticize GETFund, but not necessarily a new law. The law is skewed because what they are doing is outside the law since they are giving the monies to party boys and girls, cronies and privileged people in the society, which is not part of the law. So we need to use this Auditor General report to demand radical reforms in the management of the Fund irrespective of the administration in power.”
The Auditor-General report listed the Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, the Procurement Minister, Sarah Adwoa Safo and the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Prince Hamidu Armah as scholarship beneficiaries of the scheme in the past.
But GETFund says the three notable government appointees captured as scholarship beneficiaries in a performance audit report from the Auditor-General were not awarded scholarships under the current administration.
In a statement, it said, “the aforementioned persons have not been awarded scholarships by the Fund under the current administration.”
Also in reaction to the report, the GETFund said its mandate was not limited to 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 challenges Auditor General
Despite the backlash, GETFund has challenged claims of mismanagement and illegalities contained in the Auditor-General’s report.
In a long response to the Auditor General, it discredited many of the assertions in the report, indicating among other things that the claim that it had discontinued scholarship funding to the Scholarship Secretariat since 2008 is false.
“In 2009 and 2010 the Scholarship Secretariat submitted a schedule of fees and stipends due Ghanaian Students studying abroad for the GETFund to transfer same to the Ghanaian Missions abroad.
“In 2011 as part of special allocations towards social intervention programmes, at the instance of Government, an amount of GHS22m (twenty-two million Ghana Cedis)was allocated and released to the scholarship Secretariat,” GETFund said in its response.
GETFund added that it did not receive a request for the release of funds from the Scholarships Secretariat until 2017.