Scores of French students at the University of Ghana bear visible expressions of profound despair and distress.
Their aspirations for a year-abroad study program have become a source of painful regret due to the delayed disbursement of funds from the Scholarship Secretariat.
Over 60 students find themselves entangled in a pressing issue that jeopardizes their academic pursuits, leaving them stranded and dependent on their parents.
“We wake up every morning with your parents asking us ‘when are you going’, this and that. Our parents are very disturbed. We are on the brink of deferment,” an affected student told TV3 in an interview.
For some of these affected students, what was to become their dream to hone their proficiency in French is gradually becoming their nemesis.
The seriousness of the problem is because a lot of time has passed since they first asked about their trip.
The academic semester is almost over, and the students going through this are feeling really bad.
Because they don’t know when they can leave, they couldn’t sign up for their semester courses.
Now, they’re worried they might spend a whole year doing nothing at home.
“This isn’t a luxury or it isn’t something that we are demanding for, it’s part of our curriculum. And we have been waiting on the Scholarship Secretariat since September; we haven’t had any news.”
“We know what we want for the language [French] so we can’t just give up in this whole process. That is why we are still at home at the moment, waiting to hear from the Scholarship Secretariat,” another affected observed.
About the year abroad programme
Every year, the Scholarship Secretariat gives scholarships to students from different universities and colleges across the country.
With this support, students can join the yearly study abroad program to learn more about their specific subjects.
This program is especially great for students studying modern languages, including French. It lets them experience living in a country where the language is spoken, improving their language skills in a real-world setting.
But this year, the Secretariat hasn’t been able to release the funds on time. This has made language students worried about what will happen to them. They’re stuck in a situation with no clear information, and the Scholarship Secretariat hasn’t given them any assurances or timelines.
“We don’t also know whether school has resumed in Ivory Coast and we don’t know if we are joining them at the middle of the semester or they will have a new academic year for us. It’s very worrying.”
“Personally, I don’t have a problem deferring my course because I know what I want and what I want to do with the language I am studying. But the fact that school is in session and we are just home, we don’t even know what we are doing, is now the problem,” a distressed student said.
What is the UG Department of French doing?
The Head of the French Department mentioned that they’ve tried multiple times to fix the issue, but nothing has worked.
Dr. Samuel Koffi pointed out that the Scholarship Secretariat hasn’t shared any useful information, even though they promised they would.
“I have written a letter earlier than the time our Vice-Chancellor and the Dean contacted the Scholarship Secretariat. We never had any reply to our letter, not even a phone call and anytime we call, they might not pick it up.”
“The worry is a very impacting one in the sense that we have done what we can; our Dean also has done a lot including our own Vice Chancellor who kept calling. Even, right now, I’m sure if she sees and hears this she will still contact them again,” he explained.
Students from other schools affected
French students at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Cape Coast (UCC), and the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) are also stuck due to the delayed funds.
Even those who managed to leave the country are having problems getting the funds on time, causing a lot of stress.
The language immersion program was supposed to happen in any French-speaking African country.
In the midst of their regrets and letdowns, the students have a straightforward request.
“I would like to appeal to the Scholarship Secretariat to release the funds for the year abroad. I just pray that this year’s abroad programme will be possible,” the students appealed.
No response from Scholarship Secretariat
The Registrar wasn’t around when the news crew visited the Scholarship Secretariat to ask questions.
As of the time of filing this report, all efforts to contact him again have been unsuccessful.