A total of 129 Senor High School girls, from the three Northern Regions, are to benefit from a GH¢74,000 scholarship scheme to guard against school drop-out.
The World Food Programme and the Ghana Health Service Girls Project seek to support the less privileged girls, who attained the aggregate 06 to 16 in the 2010 Basic Education Certificate Examination.
Speaking at a ceremony in Yendi on Friday, to announce the award winners, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Minister of Education, in a speech read on her behalf, said education was the bedrock of every progressive society and needed to be taken seriously.
“It is one of the cardinal avenues to reduce poverty and restore one’s self esteem,” she said.
Recognizing the need of education, she said, government commits 30 per cent of the national budget into initiatives and other infrastructural project to enhance teaching and learning in the country.
The event dubbed “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work”, was organized by the WFP.
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu said as part of efforts towards realizing the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) two, which focuses on achieving universal primary education by 2015, government had increased the Capitation Grant from GH¢3.00 to 4.50 per child per annum, to enable basic school pupils to meet their sports and culture, as well as, other maintenance cost.
In 2008, Ghana achieved the target of 88 per cent of the MDG Two target and it was envisaged that by 2015 the country would have met the national percentage of 100 per cent, the 2010 Ghana Millennium Development Goal Report 2010 said.
Mr Ishmail Omer, WFP Country Director, said the scholarship scheme, which was supporting only 20 girls, had being extended to 129, due to donor support from both local and international sources.
Giving the background of the initiative, he said the scholarship scheme was an off-shoot of the GES/WFP take-home ration programme, which started in 1992 to encourage girls school enrolment, attendance and retention in areas with high gender disparity.
As part of the programme she said, girls who attended school of a minimum of 85 percent of the month were rewarded with a take-home food package of cereal, vegetable oil and iodized salt.
Mr Omer said with the impressive results recorded since the inception of the project, the second phase, which would start in 2012 and ends in 2016, was expected to benefit about 30,000 girls from the current 10,000 in the northern part of the Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions.
He said other WFP projects including, the income generating and food fortification activities for women’s group would be extended.
“We at WFP are proud of the success of the girl child education programmes, but we are equally wary of challenges, including inadequate classroom, high teacher pupil ration, floods and drought, which could slow down the nation’s quest to achieve MDG two,” he said.
Madam Anna-Maria Fati Paul, Executive Chairperson of Northern Ghana Commodity Action Fund said the nation had made some gains in the area of child education but a lot more needed to be done, taking into account, the limited number of women in leadership positions in the country
She advised the beneficiaries of the scholarship scheme to be guided by perseverance, endurance, determination and clear sense of direction, saying, “You must refrain from unhealthy acquisition as this can lead you astray”.
Madam Paul urged them to be focused and also discover their God-given talent, adding that, they should be ready to take risk as well as learn from experienced and knowledgeable people.