The Ford Foundation last Friday ended its special International Fellowship Programme (IFP) scholarship created in 2000 for the development of grassroots leadership and social innovators.
The IFP scholarship was based on the basic premise that given the right tools, socially committed individuals from disadvantaged communities could succeed in postgraduate studies abroad and serve as agents for social change in their home countries.
Since 2001, the Ford Foundation through IFP has spent a total of $355 million to sponsor more than 4,300 fellows in 22 countries globally with Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal being the beneficiaries in the West African sub-region.
At an official ceremony to end the IFP scholarship, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, the Minister of Education, commended the foundation for granting the less privileged in the society the opportunity to pursue postgraduate studies abroad for a decade plus.
Prof. Opoku-Agyemang, whose speech was read on her behalf, said the ministry attached great importance to tertiary education.
She said: “The acquisition and application of knowledge and skills would help in solving the numerous challenges facing the nation.”
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She said the government was committed to fostering close ties with private partners in education such as the Ford Foundation to help build the capacity of the human resources for development.
Prof. Opoku-Agyemang appealed to the foundation to consider including Ghana and other African countries in its next phase of scholarship programme in order to facilitate rapid socio-economic development.
She urged the beneficiaries of the scholarship programme to form an alumni group and become agents of social change in their societies.
Prof. Etienne Ehouan Ehile, General Secretary of the Association of African Universities (AAU), said more than 50 per cent of the alumni were in the public sector, with the rest working either in the not-for-profit or private sectors at the local, national and international level.
“Today we welcome you to celebrate with us, the achievements of a unique programme although with a heavy heart; I say heavy heart because this laudable programme is winding up now.
“We are, however, hopeful that with the experience, capacity and network created over the period, we will find other stakeholders willing and able to take over from where the IFP left off,” he stated.
Madam Araba Botchway, Project Officer of the IFP West Africa, said the fellows from Ghana were contributing towards the socioeconomic development of the nation.
Prof. J. P. M. Sebuwufu, West Africa Director of Research and Programmes of IFP and a PhD Fellow of the foundation, commended officials of the IFP West Africa for their tireless efforts that had brought the programme this far.