The federal government awarded scholarships to first class students that will see them study abroad.
The Federal Government on Monday announced the award of scholarships to 101 Nigerians who graduated with first class honours degrees to enable them pursue different courses of study up to PhD level in 25 top universities abroad.
Letters of awards were presented to the successful candidates made up of 20 females and 81 males, including a physically-challenged person.
Minister of Education, Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, said the awards, instituted by the government as part of efforts to achieve the Vision: 20:2020 and government’s transformation agenda, was “yet another milestone in the development of the education sector” in the country.
Tagged “Presidential Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development,” the minister said at the formal presentation ceremony in Abuja that government is confident that by awarding scholarships to deserving candidates to study abroad, it is sowing a seed that would be of huge benefit to the country in future.
“The Federal Government plans to develop a critical mass of professionals who would serve as catalysts of change and agents of scientific and technological advancement, as well as sustainable economic development,” the minister said.
“For the first time in Nigeria, we have carried out a selection process that is based purely on merit. Mr. President’s instruction was very clear from day one; that merit, and merit only, be the criterion for selecting the awardees,” she added.
She said the scheme was meant to select candidates who had excelled in specified disciplines, such as sciences, basic medical sciences and special aspects of biology, as well as economics, engineering, technology and medicine.
Of the 1,300 candidates who applied for the scholarships, 449 were shortlisted and invited for the computer-based test, while only 101 of them could be accommodated because of limited spaces.
Ms. Rufa’i congratulated the beneficiaries for scaling the last selection hurdle and urged them to be law-abiding, humble and God-fearing. She also warned that government would not hesitate to withdraw the scholarship of any beneficiary found to be involved in any act capable of denting the image of the country.
The minister said the offer includes provision for tuition, accommodation, transportation, living expenses and local travels, adding that the breakdown would be known when the awardees received their admission letters.
The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, Julius Okojie, said the efforts of the present administration has put Nigeria on the path of recovery in the education sector, adding that the country’s tag as `giant of Africa’ in the past was because of scholarship awards to Nigerians, which bred thorough professionals that contributed greatly to the development of the country.
Mr. Okojie urged the beneficiaries to be hardworking and tolerant as they were bound to face challenges, such as discrimination, outside the country’s shores, pointing out that he was confident the scheme would yield good harvest in due course.