More girls to benefit from scholarship scheme

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

A nu,ber of brilliant financially disadvantaged girls are to benefit from a new scholarship initiative that will enable them to access both second cycle and tertiary education, beginning September this year.

The 10-year initiative targets to support and produce 4,000 senior high school and 2,000 tertiary graduates. The initiative is called “The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme at Camfed Ghana” and girls from four regions—Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Central — will benefit from it.

In the first year, 720 girls will access the initiative at the senior high school level, with 70 accessing it at the tertiary level. In the second year, 1,500 girls will benefit at the SHS level while 200 will benefit at the tertiary level.

In the third year, 1,780 girls will benefit at the SHS level and 230 at the tertiary level. Five hundred girls will benefit from the initiative at the tertiary level in the fourth year, among other things.

Beneficiaries (to be called ‘Scholars of The MasterCard Foundation at Camfed Ghana’) will receive full scholarship and other support from SHS through to the tertiary level.

“Unlike Camfed programmes where support is solely need based, The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme focuses on academically gifted but financially disadvantaged girls,” Mrs Sally Ofori-Yeboah, a Programme Manager at Camfed Ghana, said.

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme at Camfed will be officially launched in October this year when the first batch of beneficiaries would have been selected.

Introducing The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme to regional directors from the four beneficiary regions in Accra, the Executive Director of Camfed Ghana, Mrs Dolores Dickson, said The MasterCard Foundation had created a 10-year initiative to educate and develop a cohort of next generation leaders who would be committed to giving back to their communities.

“Scholars will gain skills, values and competencies needed to succeed in the economy and make positive social impacts in their communities. Scholars of the MasterCard Foundation at Camfed Ghana will serve as mentors, role models and problem solvers in their communities and will be equipped and empowered to become leaders, fueling social and economic transformation, particularly in Africa,” she added.

Mrs Dickson indicated that selection of the potential scholars would be from among young girls growing up in poor, rural families in Ghana who were unable to meet their educational aspirations at the senior high and tertiary levels.

They (beneficiaries), she said, would be supported into educational institutions that could provide the social milieu and teaching that would enable girls and young women realise their potentials and join a network of peers committed to ploughing the benefits of their education back to their families.

“We at Camfed are very much excited about the opportunities the programme presents to our young women and are keen on enrolling as many girls as the programme can take to make a difference in the lives of our future women leaders who will in turn shape and re-shape the lives of their families, communities and society.”

Camfed, a non-governmental organisation, works in five African countries: Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It started operating in Ghana in 1998. The organisation’s mission is to increase girls’ access to education and accelerate the benefits to individuals, their families and communities.

Since 1998, Camfed Ghana has been working to provide educational opportunities for children from rural communities in 720 schools across 30 districts in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Central regions.

In the 2012/2013 academic year alone, Camfed provided scholarships for over 16,000 girls to enable them to complete a full cycle of school.

Explaining The MasterCard Foundation Scholar Programme to the regional directors, Mrs Ofori-Yeboah said the success of the programme would largely depend on the support from the regional and district directors of education, the Ghana Education Service headquarters, the Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System, the Girls Education Unit of the GES and heads of schools.

Selection of SHS scholars or beneficiaries would be done by District Education Committees while that of the tertiary beneficiaries would be done through screening and recommendation by the alumni of Camfed beneficiaries, known as Cama.

UNESCO estimates that over 800,000 children are out of school of which 70 per cent are girls (560,000).

Story: Emmanuel Bonney