One hundred and fifty academically promising students from low-income backgrounds in the six coastal districts of the Western Region have been awarded scholarships at the launch of this year’s Aker Energy- GNPC Scholars Programme.
The scholarships will enable the needy students to pursue studies at various Senior High Schools and Nursing Training Institutions, and prepare them for further studies at the tertiary level of education.
Parents, students, community leaders and representatives from the oil sector got together at Takoradi in the Western Region to celebrate award of the scholarships to the 150 students – considered a record number since institution of the scheme seven years ago.
“We in Aker believe that this programme with its slogan ties in directly with our long-term ambitions in Ghana: ‘Developing Local Talent’. I must say that I am proud to see what has been achieved and how the programme has contributed over the past years. I am sure that this years’ 150 – up from 125 last year – Aker Energy-GNPC scholars are blazing a trail that will benefit Ghana in coming years,” Mr. Jan Helge Skogen, Country Manager of Aker Energy, said when he congratulated the fresh scholars and wished them luck in their academic endeavours.
The scholarship programme, previously known as the Hess-GNPC scholarship, has this year been extended and repackaged as the Aker-GNPC Scholarship following Aker Energy’s acquisition of Hess Ghana in February. This year, the programme has offered scholarships to a record number of students and has instituted a more comprehensive follow-up system for each individual student through the pastoral care component of the programme.
Mr. Skogen observed that since 2012 the programme has provided full scholarships for a total of about 794 students in Senior High, Technical, Vocational Schools as well as Health institutions, with the scholarship covering the full cost of school fees and including all boarding costs, books, examination fees and the cost of other basic academic material.
Following the laudable free SHS initiative by government last year, the programme has now been repackaged to include a strong emphasis on mentoring and career counselling to improve the students’ overall performance, Mr. Skogen disclosed.
The Country Manager stressed that Aker Energy, based on its Norwegian heritage, has an ambition to go beyond local content requirements to share knowledge and experience in a way that contributes to not only achieving short-term goals, but also meeting the medium- and long-term ambitions of the local oil and gas industry in Ghana.
“I know that Aker Energy appreciates the value of education, and shares GNPC’s strong belief in education. GNPC is a strong supporter of education and training programmes, not only in the Western Region but all over the country. Personally, I am a strong believer in what gestures and programmes like this can do to transform the lives of others. I am also where I am today because someone believed in me,” said Dr. Kwame Baah-Nuakoh, General Manager of Sustainability at Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
Dr. Kwame Baah-Nuakoh said GNPC organised a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) quiz this year, which involved 132 schools in 22 districts of the Western Region – disclosing that 100 students selected out of this exercise will be sponsored for an upgrade of knowledge and skills at the Accra Digital Centre.
Traditional and community leaders at the launch were delighted to see youth being supported by access to education with a view to enhancing their capacity to fully participate in the growing oil and gas sector of Ghana. Nana Ogyeahohoo Yaw Gyebi II, President of the Western Region House of Chiefs, expressed his thanks for the programme and urged the hopeful students to make the most of their prospects, saying: “You have a lot of opportunities ahead of you.
“It is an opportunity we appreciate so much, and I commend Aker and GNPC for this scholarship award scheme. It is my expectation that within the next 10 years we will have produced a lot of youth trained to acquire vocational and technical skills to develop their talents and be able to get an opportunity to work in the oil and gas sector,” Nana added.
Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Western Regional Minister, also commended Aker Energy-GNPC for assisting in the education of students in their operational area.