Victor Efeizomor writes that indigent students of Delta State origin are being supported through scholarship schemes that would help them to achieve their dreams
The expression on the face of Bobby Ugbebor, a pharmacology student of Anambra State University that morning was poignant. But in a moment that sad look gave way to a radiant smile. Once he heard his name, he stepped forward to collect the cheque presented to him by the Delta State Scholarship Board and the gloom written on his face disappeared.
Bobby’s father, a civil servant with the Delta State Government had died in 2007 leaving his widow, Mrs. Ugbebor, to cater for the family. So when the news filtered in that the Delta state government was offering scholarship to children of deceased civil servants and physically challenged students , young Bobby cashed in on the opportunity. He was given N50,000.
He said : “This is coming as a surprise , I did not know I would be selected , I can now buy by textbooks and pay for my school fees which has been my major concern. Now my mother will have to focus on my other siblings and worry less about me. I am full of gratitude to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for making this possible.”
Omafuaire Loveth, a 19-year-old blind student of Delta State University in the department of English and Literary Studies was also awarded scholarship. As she sat in the comfort of her parents’ living room in Benin city, Edo State, in deep reflection of what life would bring, she got a call that she has been selected for the scholarship. She was in the category of those who got N50,000.
She could not hid her joy when she said, “i am exceedingly very grateful to the government for this opportunity, I now have enough money to pay my school fees and buy my books.”
For Eghweree Ogheneruonah, a current doctor of philosophy (PhD) student in the College of Social Science and International Studies at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom who received N10 million, the scholarship has become eternal blessing.
Ogheneruonah, who is from Ethiope West Local Government Area of the state a few months ago got his scholarship among the category of first-class candidates to study in the United Kingdom.
He said: “The scholarship scheme by the government for first-class candidates, of which I am a beneficiary, remains one of the best things one can readily point to in the history of human capital development in Delta State. With constant release of funds for the first-class scheme and others piloted by the Delta State Bursary and Scholarship Board, the governor has proved that he loves excellence and is keen in rewarding same. To me, the scheme apart from helping to build the man-power needs of Delta State in the nearest future remains one of the surest ways of rewarding hard-work and encouraging excellence.”
The Uduaghan-led administration’s commitment to education and human capital development has led to the restructuring of the Delta State Bursary and Scholarship Board to allow for deepening of democratic dividends through the award of scholarships and bursary allowance to indigent students of Delta State origin in and outside the state.
In achieving his goal towards human capital development, the government has continued to support the educational advancement of Deltans with scholarship awards among other forms of financial aid to students at all levels.
From primary school pupils to postgraduate students, there are various forms of scholarship schemes and financial assistance available to them. For instance, West African Education Council (WAEC) fees are paid for secondary school students among others.
This year alone, additional 518 students of Delta State origin were beneficiaries of N73.9 million released by the state government as scholarship awards to outstanding students, including those currently studying in different countries across the globe.
THISDAY checks revealed that through the states Bursary and Scholarship scheme, no less than 367 undergraduate students received amounts ranging from N100, 000 to N300, 000 apart from 106 masters and 45 doctorate degree students.
The scheme also puts into consideration the financial challenges of certain categories of students such as children of deceased civil servants in secondary and tertiary institutions across the country. A matter of fact, N30 million has so far been disbursed to 403 children of deceased civil servants and 101 students with physical disabilities in the state as a way of encouraging them to attain their educational goals.
Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan said the scheme was initiated to assist students of Delta State origin to pursue their academic dream despite the financial challenges they may face, as part of the human capital development efforts geared towards realising the policy of ‘Delta Beyond Oil’. According to him, education was one of the other major sustainable means of building a state beyond oil.
The Personal Assistant to Governor Uduaghan on Communication, Mr. Paul Odili thinks the state scholarship and bursary scheme is the best thing that has happened to Deltans because according to him, “it is a first-class scholarship scheme that has been so successful, and to me it’s so inspiring. I mean we have read about scholarship scheme in the past, we know about free education and other liberal education initiatives, but this one by Governor Uduaghan beats them all, by miles in terms of consistency and definition.”
Odili explained that the scheme is promoting human capital development at a greater level because it’s accessible to many people, adding that “just any Deltan is eligible provided you made the mark, you can receive the scholarship, it is a transformation programme that will not only impacts on the recipients and their immediate families but generations yet unborn. I have to say that many of the recipients from what they said and from what we know never thought a day like this would come, when they would receive such a boost. So Governor Uduaghan has remained steadfast on this programme, it is transparent with no interference or influence. If you make the mark, you get it. It is as simple as that”.
The Chairman, Delta State Bursary and Scholarship Board, Monsignor Buchi Aninye while presenting cheques recently to beneficiaries of the scholarship scheme for children of deceased civil servants and physically challenged students in Asaba, disclosed that government has expended over N71million to 1,233 children of decreased civil servants and 346 physically challenged students adding that the current administration has continued to demonstrate its unparalleled commitment and determination to its education policy of “every child counts.’’
According to him, children of deceased civil servants in secondary school category got N30,000 each while those in the primary school category received N20,000 each, with the physically challenged receiving N50,000 each.
Aninye explained that other schemes in the board also include Student Special Assistance Scheme that enables scholarship recipients to study to a PhD level anywhere in the world; scholarships to students in Aviation College within the country, and financial assistance to students in the Nigeria law schools.
He said the values of the scholarship award are on merit and selection of beneficiaries on the basis of academic performance and other competitive criteria.
He pointed out that, in 2007, the sum of N402,499,816 was released for the payment of bursary to 36,967 students of Delta state origin while in 2008 over N213 million was paid as scholarship for 10 students attending the maritime Academy Oron and Aviation college Zaria, adding that the board is also managing the special Assistance Scheme to Delta Sate indigenes attending the Nigeria law school valued at N30,000 per student. In 2007, a total of N13 million was disbursed, but this assistance has now been increased to N50, 000 per student.
The Commissioner for Higher Education in the state Prof. Hope Eghagha, said the state government, was passionate in development of manpower which is key to nation-building.
He said that about N1 billion is being spent yearly for the bursary award to Delta State students who are in 160 tertiary institutions in the country.
He noted that presently, about 150 first-class students were being automatically sponsored with N5m each to study masters’ degree programmes in different parts of the world, adding that they will also receive N5m each year to run Phd programmes which will last for three years.
He disclosed that, the state government spends N9m yearly to sponsor students in Aviation school in order to equip them with the knowledge that will make them professionals.
Prof. Eghagha also stated that the Board was not resting on its oars to make sure there is transparency and equity in the programme to enable all eligible Deltans access these programmes.