The Citi FM Foundation through the generosity of listeners of Citi 97.3 , has supported some 40 brilliant, but financially disadvantaged students, to pursue their tertiary education through one of its CSR projects, the Citi Opportunity in Education (COPE).
The station raised an amount of about GHS 150,000.00, to cater for the fees of fresh and continuing university students on both its flagship morning program the Citi Breakfast Show and major news bulletins.
This will be the fifth year running since the Citi FM Foundation started giving this ray of hope to otherwise hopeless, but excellent students through COPE.
The number of beneficiaries otherwise known as COPE Scholars, rose from 25 to 40 this year, due to the overwhelming numbers of brilliant students with compelling stories.
According to Mrs. Jennifer Anane Nsiah, the Human Resources Manager and COPE Administrator, “the focus on tertiary education has become critical because of the increasing number of SHS graduates qualifying for tertiary institutions without any means of financial support.”
Statistics from Ghana’s education sector show that, in 2015, Ghana had 176 accredited private and public tertiary institutions. It excludes 14 registered foreign tertiary institutions according to the National Accreditation Board.
It includes 10 Public Universities, 76 Private Tertiary institutions, and 10 Technical Universities.
333,817 students enrolled in tertiary institutions in Ghana in 2015, according to the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE).
248,507 of them (74%), were enrolled in public tertiary institutions, with 85,310 (26%) enrolling in Private Tertiary Institutions.
A total of 274,262 candidates sat for WASSCE in 2016. 125,065 (53.19%) made passes which makes them eligible for admissions, but the number of students enrolled is always less than the number of applicants eligible.
The University of Ghana for example received a total of 40,435 applications. 25,295 students were offered admission, while only 10,551 enrolled.
Given that over 30% of Ghanaians live below the poverty line, the lack of funds to pay fees which keeps ballooning each year features prominently as a cause.
The crowdfunding process targeted a total sum of GhS250,000.00 to support 50 beneficiaries through their tertiary education period in various public universities in Ghana.
The 5-day on air campaign inched close to its target yielding approximately GhC150,000.00. The amount is being used in offering academic and residential bursary for the COPE Scholars for the academic year.
Each student received an average of GHS 3,500.00 for academic and residential fees, with others getting between GHS 4,000.00 to GHS 5,000.00 for both academic and residential fees, and other expenses.
Giving the breakdown of beneficiaries, Mrs Anane Nsiah noted that, the students offer courses in the physical and natural sciences, humanities and business at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Ghana (UG), University of Professional Studies (UPSA), University for Development Studies (UDS), the University of Allied Health Sciences (UHAS), and the University of Education Winneba (UEW).
About 25% of the beneficiaries were students with at least 7 A1s, with most of the applicants coming from one-parent homes.
Some of the students had deferred their university enrollment for two academic years for lack of funds, while others risked dropping out of university for non payment of fees, before they received the COPE bursary.
One of the COPE Scholars, Osei Yaw, who has been admitted to study chemical engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), described the Scholarship as a ‘saviour’.
“Referring to COPE as my ‘savior’ will be an understatement. I graduated from Nungua Senior High School in Accra in 2016 with six ( A1’s) , but I could not go to the University because I had no money. My mother is a poor farmer at a village in the Ashanti Region, and I have never seen my father since I was born so I did not know how help was going to come. But COPE has made all the difference now. I gained admission to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2017. I am being offered the same course I applied for which is Chemical Engineering.”
“I am simply speechless because COPE paid for my school fees , my accommodation and gave me extra money for my expenses . God bless Citi FM and its cherished listeners. I know that one day I will look back and say , had it not been for COPE, I never would have made it in life.”
The station apart from providing financial assistance, also has plans to roll out a mentorship and counselling program for the COPE Scholars during the course of the academic year.