The Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, has said it is unfair for the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund) scholarship to be enjoyed by only the needy in society while politicians and their children are excluded.
Speaking on the recent revelation by the Auditor-General that some high-profile politicians instead of the needy-but-brilliant, have been beneficiaries of the GETfund scholarship, the New Juaben South MP told Blessed Sogah on Class91.3FM’s State of the Nation programme aired on Wednesday, 26 February 2020 that: “So, you’re saying that I’m a politician, scholarships are being given to people to go and study abroad [but] because I’m a politician, my kids should not benefit from same? Is that what you are saying?”
“It’s the same bogus argument that led us to having free education in the northern part of the country, which, now the NPP says, ‘no’; everybody has to benefit from it; there are a lot of rich people in Ghana whose kids are benefiting from the free SHS, go and throw them out of the school and tell them their parents can afford it. Do you know the amount of taxes that they pay?” he defended his position.
When the host pointed out to him that high-profile politicians are in a better position, relative to the poor, as far as funding their education is concerned, Dr Assibey-Yeboah retorted: “So, should the scholarships be the preserve of some Ghanaians? Are they more Ghanaian than me? Do they pay more taxes than me?”
“This whole scholarship thing, do you know that free SHS is also a scholarship? Yes, that’s scholarship; so, if you legislate that it should go to only the needy, so, you have somebody who claims they are needy, they are not paying taxes and then they should access this but I pay all manner of taxes, I shouldn’t be able to access it.
“If you are cancelling it altogether, so be it; GETfund will only be for infrastructure, no scholarship, fair game, OK”, he argued, adding: “If there’s a violation of the law, let us say so, but picking and choosing that this person benefited so some other person benefits but because they are not a politician, that’s fine”.
According to the Auditor-General’s report, some of the high-profile beneficiaries include the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA), Dr Prince Armah, who issued a statement saying he was deserving of it; Education Minister Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, who also issued a statement saying he benefited from it in 2014 and not as a minister of state; and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations Ignatius Barfour Awuah, who is yet to issue a statement on the matter.
Also, Sara Adwoa Safo, Deputy Majority Leader and Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya, said her scholarship award was to help her serve her constituents, parliament and the nation better.