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Falore: Abuse of scheme dampens students’ morale

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The Chairman, Mind Builders Educational Trust Council, Mr. Bosun Falore, says upgrading facilities in government schools to ensure that a greater percentage of students have access to qualitative education is more impactful than bursaries and scholarships. He spoke to ENO-ABASI SUNDAY

In the past, bursary payment was a social intervention used to alleviate circumstances of indigent students in the country. Why are bursary payments thinning away?
The reason why bursary payments are thinning away is not far-fetched, but the major reason is the global economic recession, which Nigeria is not insulated from. Unlike in the early 1980s up to the early 2000s when many states in the country were buoyant and could make bursary payments to indigent students a regular thing, the reverse is now the case.The revenue, which state governments receive from the Federal Government has dropped, hence, most states are either owing arrears while some, like Edo State government have totally scrapped bursary payment.

At a time when qualitative education is becoming pricey, to what extent can scholarships and bursaries help in affording indigent students decent education?
I will not agree with you that qualitative education is becoming expensive because the price the whole society will eventually pay for ignorance will be higher in the long run.Now, back to your question, knowing fully that times are hard and that some parents/guardians of indigent students cannot afford to pay their children/wards fees; giving grants either as scholarships or bursaries will go a long way in giving decent education to many students. However, I am of the opinion that rather than handpicking a few students and giving them bursaries to pay their fees or scholarships to enable them enjoy decent education in privileged schools, the government of the day should critically look at ways of upgrading facilities in government schools so that the greater percentage of our students who attend these schools will have access to qualitative education.

How destructive is it when scholarships, which ought to be given to those with proven academic abilities, are abused by managers of such programmes?
This is very pathetic and has not only caused a lot of havoc but will continue to cause more havoc if not nipped in the bud permanently.To begin with, such an action will continue to send wrong signals to students that they do not need to study hard to excel. Besides, it will also dampen the morale of hardworking students who work tirelessly to excel and they may no longer see the need to strive towards excellence.To ensure that such abuses do not continue, the Student Loan’s Board should be restructured and only people of proven integrity should be saddled with the task of discharging the assignment.

Private school owners are also expected to, as part of their corporate social responsibility, offer scholarships to either indigent students within their areas of operations, or exceptionally brilliant students. It seems most of them are shying away from this?
I do not agree with you that most private school owners are shying away from offering scholarships to students, either indigent or exceptionally brilliant students. I make bold to say that our school gives scholarship annually. As at date, 16 out of 132 students in our high school are on scholarship, either as indigent students, or as exceptionally brilliant students and I know many school owners who do same. As for the school owners who are not practicing this, some of them may attribute their non-involvement in this exercise to lack of funds, but I strongly believe that every private school owner should embark on corporate social responsibility and giving out scholarships to exceptionally brilliant students is one good way to accomplish this.

Most scholarship programmes in the country are not sustainably run hence the hitches beneficiaries regularly encounter. What factors should be considered in instituting scholarship schemes that would stand the test of time?
The major factor to consider is the source of funding. Several state governments started the bursary scheme many decades ago but they can no longer sustain the scheme because of lack of fund.Another area to consider is the corrupt practices among organisers of these scheme. Scholarships should be given to students who are academically exceptional and truly deserve them. As at date, the criteria for qualifying for the scholarship scheme for undergraduates is 3.5 CGPA, but many students meet this benchmark, did very well in the examinations, but were not given scholarship while students who did not meet up with the benchmark were awarded scholarship. Likewise, in Lagos State, we have students who have proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are indigenes of the state, but were still not registered for the state bursary.

The Federal Government has been severally accused of letting down millions of poor Nigerians by failing to implement court judgments on the right to education, the latest of which ordered former President Goodluck Jonathan to establish the Nigerian Education Bank that would enhance access of millions of disadvantaged children to education. How important is the establishment of an education bank in the country?
When in Year 2017, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu announced the intention of the government to establish the Education Bank, we were all filled with joy. However, if eventually it is established, it shall help to provide funds and support for direct stakeholders in the education sector. It shall also help to meet the financial needs of both teachers and students whose parents are not well to do. If implemented it would help to develop education, which is the bedrock of any society. As at date, neither the Federal Government nor any of the state governments has met the recommendation of UNESCO that 26 per cent of fiscal budgets should be dedicated to education. The establishment of an education bank will surely turn the tide around for the better.

Education loans constitute an option for needy students in other climes, why is it difficult for us to have such here, a development, which would obviously contribute to the country achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4?
We have the Nigerian Students Loan Board, but many people believe that it is not as efficient as it should be. Likewise, we have financial institutions like RenMoney as well as many other financial institutions, which give out education loans. The government should regulate the terms and conditions requested by these financial institutions.


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Bosun Falore
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