By Tryphena Lizzert Yeboah
In 2015, The African-American Institute (AAI) released a report about the state of education in Africa; showing only 6 percent of younger people in sub-Saharan Africa were enrolled in higher education institutions compared to the global average of 26 percent.
The promising news is that universities in many African countries, including Ghana, are experiencing a surge in their enrollment. But the question still remains: how many of these young individuals stay in school until they complete a course?
How many go a long way, only to find there’s not enough support to see them to the need?
Inasmuch as various programs have been introduced by government, as well as non-governmental and non-profit institutions, one would attest to the fact that challenges still prevail in the educational sector. The most common of these challenges is the lack of financial aid for less privileged students.
The Lebanese community is certainly an entity whose work, especially in the area of education in Ghana, cannot go unnoticed. The Lebanese community, for the past four years, has been running a scholarship scheme for needy but brilliant students, and this initiative has so far benefitted hundreds of students spread across University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Technology, Ghana Institute of journalism, as well as families of fallen soldiers in the military, police, immigration and prison services in the country.
After losing my father to a terminal disease in 2014, many relatives and family friends pledged to support my education by regularly providing financial support. It was a shock to realize that these pledges became mere promises, usually a template when one is bereaved. It came as a surprise and a great relief to discover that I had been selected along with fifteen other students to be awarded a scholarship by the community.
The scholarship package included payment of our fees and the Students’ Representative Council dues. It seemed like the most perfect and timely gift I had ever received. There I was after the demise of a hero, my father, wondering how my mother was going to cater for my two brothers and I with her meagre income from the pure water business.
Standing in front of His Excellency Ali Halabi, the Lebanese Ambassador to Ghana, and receiving this reward is the most honorable thing that’s ever happened to me and even now, I am still completely humbled. The best part of this package, however, is the part the press leaves out in the story, the part we barely notice because we are all too busy looking at the big picture, forgetting that it is the little details that come together to form it.
In addition to the scholarship package, I was given the opportunity to to do my internship at two notable media organizations, The Ghanaian Times and Metro TV where I learnt so much practical knowledge in the journalism field. I cannot forget to add that I also had the privilege to study a fully paid French course at Alliance Francaise.
The best part of this entire journey hasn’t been the support I am receiving but rather the kind of relationship His Excellency established with all the scholarship beneficiaries. I was taken aback on days he would call me on my phone only to ask about my well-being and about school.
Somehow, with the ambassador, every border of highness or superiority seems to break down under the weight of His humility and his warm nature. His personal interest in each student’s development is unimaginable. Especially because one would assume or expect that after providing the fully packed scholarship, there is nothing else to be done.
Even if there was, another goodwill organization or leader can continue from where he stopped. But in this special case of the Lebanese community, HE Halabi didn’t stop there. Although that wouldn’t have been bad in itself, he went out of his way, his busy schedules, went the extra mile, to take up the responsibility for every potential he identified and relentlessly invested by in us day after day.
It is indeed an undisputed fact that the Lebanese Community has made an immense contribution in my life, specifically, my education and subsequently, my future. I am totally indebted to HE Ali Halabi for everything he has done (and is still doing) and especially for spurring me to achieve greater feats.
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