Government has indicated that it will soon begin auditing the Mathematics, Science and Technology Scholarship Scheme (MASTEES) programme, which has been bedevilled with challenges such as unavailability of funds.
According to the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Prof. Frimpong Boateng, government is interested in promoting science, technology education but will have to audit the entire programme before taking further action on it.
“The principle behind the programme is very good, but we need to get some more information and audit the programme to find out whether it will increase enrolment in science education and whether it will affect the results of students who benefitted from the programme. So, these are some of the facts that we want to gather.
“But we are interested in science, technology education. When we finish the audit, we will be able to take it up and move on with the programme,” he told parliament when he appeared to answer a question on the status of MASTEES implementation.
He also stated that: “In 2015 and again in 2016, MESTI requested the release of funds for the programme to continue. Unfortunately, funds were not released and the programme was truncated.
“At the time that the programme was stopped in 2015, a total of twelve thousand, seven hundred and fifty-five (12,755) students had benefitted.”
The MASTEES was an incentive programme to provide scholarships and bursaries for needy but brilliant students in Mathematics, Science and Technology-related subjects in tertiary and second cycle institutions.
In 2009, Cabinet gave approval for implementation of the scheme by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and GETFUND.
The programme was officially launched on August 17, 2009, and its introduction became necessary following a decline in the interest of students to take up the study of science and mathematics, coupled with the poor results students obtained at the West Africa Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
It was to be funded by 2 percent of funds allocated to GETFund. The allocation was to be deposited in a special account called ‘MASTEES Fund’ to be disbursed by the Scholarship Secretariat.
It was estimated that the MASTEES programme would benefit 41,400 brilliant but needy students annually, to enable them pursue both secondary and tertiary education.
Implementation of the programme started in 2010, and Funds released by GETFund between 2010 to 2014 was GH₵10.5million.
The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) received an amount of GH₵3m from the GETFund for implementation of the 2014/2015 MASTEES programme.
This amount is said to have benefitted 3,849 students in pre-tertiary and tertiary institutions under the MASTEES programme.