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The Fears And Hopes Of Beneficiaries Of Rivers State Government Scholarship

Scholarship is defined as an amount of money given by a school, college, university or other organization to pay for the studies of a person with great ability, but little money. It is in light of this that the Rivers State Government in 2008 awarded scholarship to Rivers State indigenes studying in higher institutions of learning across the country.
The scholarship board headed by a literary icon in Nigeria and Africa in person of Dr. Elechi Amadi effected the first disbursement in 2009 to the beneficiaries.
There are three categories of beneficiaries: one thousand forty two undergraduates (1,042), three hundred and twenty Masters Degree students (320) and two hundred (200) Doctorate Degree students. The gesture by the Rivers State Government was to assist the students complete their studies in various disciplines of endeavour and the scholarship has duration of three years; that is from 2009 to 2011.
Indeed, the Rivers State Government through the scholarship board has paid for two years remaining 2011 disbursement. It is observed that what has delayed the 2011 disbursement is lack of fund. And there is no budget for the scholarship board to off set the outstanding payment Observationally, the oversea students are being favoured as their payment is done according to specification to meet the international procedure of what scholarship is all about. But their counter parts within the country have not received their last payment. It is giving a serious concern to the beneficiaries who thought they are abandoned at the middle of the ocean, while there counter parts at abroad are enjoying the scholarship fully. Up till now the students are in a state of oblivion. And there is need for the Rivers State Government to renew its commitment to the students.
The studies of the students are at stake as fund is not available to complete the programme. And some have resorted to borrowing in order to accomplish their studies. It is true that the Rivers State Government has revamped the scholarship board which was in moribund state some years ago. It is obvious that the Rivers State Government meant well for the students despite the delay in payment of the Scholarship. The award of scholarship to Rivers State students by Rivers State Government reveals the emergency situation of education in the state. The good gesture by the State Government must as a matter of fact be commended. Yes, as the Government has awarded the scholarship through the scholarship board, there is need for availability of fund to meet the target of helping the students to complete their career. It is a contract that should be kept by both parties.
The Ministry of Finance should expedite action in treating issue related to making fund available to scholarship board. No doubt, there, is lack of fund, in the board. And the board is doing a lofty job to change the fortune of Rivers indigenes academically. And scholarship board should not be starved with fund as its obligations to Rivers people is enormous and life transforming. Whatever policy that should starve the board with fund should be jettisoned as that will cause down ward movement in the educational expectation of the state.
The emergency declared in education by the Government of Rivers State under the leadership of Government Chibuike Amaechi is working and must be sustained for posterity to speak. And because Rivers State is one of the disadvantage states in the country, the scholarship must be taken seriously. With this notion in mind, there is need for the rivers State Government to make special budget provision for scholarship board. The scholarship board should work in tandem with the Ministry of Education in order to meet the education aspiration and objectives of Rivers people. It is not a story that the Rivers State Government is working hard in education sector. In the same vein, the Rivers State sustainable development agency (RSSDA), an establishment of Rivers State Government is seriously sending River people abroad to acquire professional skills in their various fields of studies.
With all these, the Rivers State Government is winning war against illiteracy in the state. And that is the more reason why fund meant for scholarship should be made available to the reach of the beneficiaries wherever their studies would take them to. The 2011 scholarship that was not disbursed to students should be looked into and fund made available for payment.
Indeed, it is also a way of Government empowering people to get educated and to embark on serious research works. Research is fund oriented; therefore government through the scholarship board should disburse funds to students to continue their academic pursuit. The good gesture by the Government should not come to an end abruptly rather it should be improved and sustained. There is need for seriousness in their studies on the part of the beneficiaries as the Government is poised to fulfill the mandate of the scholarship.
Frank Eneawaji Ogwuonuonu

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