Esezobor: Scholarships, bursaries great tools for achieving education for all
Professor of Extractive Metallurgy and Materials Processing at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos (UNILAG), David Esezobor, in this says if well managed, scholarships and bursaries are sure instruments to facilitate society advancement. He spoke to GBENGA SALAU.
Bursaries were used to cushion the effect that financial challenges have on indigent students in the past. How do you view the gradual thinning away of this social intervention initiative?
Bursaries are intended to reduce the financial burden borne by parents as they strive to fund their wards’ education. The fact that many students don’t have access to it now makes its purpose defeated as far as the students are concerned.
To what extent do scholarships and bursaries impact on efforts by indigent students to earn quality education?
There are large number of students out there who are very brilliant, but due to limited or lack of funds, they cannot have access to decent education. Scholarship and bursary schemes were therefore established to help students, especially the indigent ones to gain access to quality education. By making funds available for scholarships and bursaries, brilliant and indigent students are encouraged and academically prepared to contribute to national development after graduation. Because education is key to economic development and it broadly improves one’s mind and life, it is imperative to create a leveraging environment for a majority of students to obtain such benefits.
Schemes like these, especially scholarships also encourage non-beneficiaries to strive harder in order to become beneficiaries. Moreover, experiences gained by the beneficiaries in schools, colleges and universities come in handy in their contributions to organisational reforms, and facilitating better performance of the country’s economy.
Is education for all possible in this country?
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.Without confronting equity issues, it will be impossible to achieve the objective of learning for all. Learning for all means ensuring that all students, and not just the most privileged or gifted, acquire the knowledge and skills that they need. Major challenges of access remain for disadvantaged populations at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We must lower the barriers that keep some children from attaining as much education as other population groups, and there are no better tools for doing so than awards of scholarships and bursaries.
Of late, surviving bursary and scholarship schemes are replete with underhand dealings. What are the implications of denying brilliant indigent students such benefits?
The negative implications of denying brilliant or indigent students scholarship and bursaries are numerous. It could result to denying the nation the opportunity of producing more prominent scholars, administrators, quality leaders, innovators, great farmers, entrepreneurs and good citizens.We would also be denying bright young minds the chance to sharpen their academic skills, as well as, the opportunity to prepare them for employment, lead productive and healthy lives, and ensure that their communities and nation regenerate through their expertise.By setting the stage for the above, we are also breeding armed robbers, and fraudsters, which are part of what youths become if they fail to gain access to education due to financial difficulties.
Schools and corporate citizens are shying away from giving scholarships to indigent students as part of their CSR. What could be responsible for this?
Apart from school owners, banks and sundry corporate bodies are expected to offer scholarships to indigent students, especially brilliant ones. In short, it is not only part of their corporate social responsibility, but also to their own benefits because these students upon graduation could be employed in these establishments to contribute to their development and growth.Unfortunately, most of them shy away from this either because of labour market policies, lack of incentives, or encouragement from the government, especially when they are subjected to multiple taxes.
The few surviving scholarship schemes are not without hitches, can we ever sustainably administer them?
The hitches the beneficiaries usually encounter are connected not only to corruption, but also to issues such as bureaucracy, inappropriate budgetary provisions, bank transfers etc. In order to institute therefore, an effective scholarship programme, proper planning and appropriate budgeting should be done through special scholarship units in MDAs.
Policies and their implementations, as well as strong institution must surely play major roles in running of successful schemes of this nature. Don’t they?
As I said earlier, education is key to national development and growth. It is also an investment, and banks are pivotal to successful investments. Improving learning outcomes requires strategic reforms and interventions at all levels of the education system. Major challenges in access to meaningful education remain for the most disadvantaged population, and there is a need to increase financing to close these gaps and improve the quality of service provision through better policies and stronger institutions.
Therefore, I join others to advocate for the establishment of education bank. Apart from its obligatory responsibilities to facilitate the disbursement of bursaries and scholarships, it could be a rally point for all those in need of education loans. The bank will help to provide support for national education policies or initiatives.