Jos - The Plateau Government spent N89.6 million on the payment of scholarships in 2012, Mrs Mary Davou, the Executive Secretary of the state's Scholarship Board said.
Davou made the disclosure on Wednesday in Jos when the state's Commissioner for Education, Mr Nanle Dashen, paid an unscheduled visit to the University of Jos, the last venue of the disbursement of the scholarships.
She explained that each student was entitled to N5 000, adding that medical and engineering students as well as the physically challenged students received N8 000 and N30 000 respectively.
"The disparity was to attract Plateau students to pick interest in medical sciences and engineering, having noticed that the state is seriously lagging behind other states in these disciplines.
"For the physically challenged students, N30 000 was approved for them to encourage them not to relent in their drive to acquire higher education, given their condition.
"It was also to attract others to follow suit," she added.
She said that the University of Jos was the last point of the payment as the board had already paid all Plateau students studying in different institutions across the country.
Davou commended the Gov. Jonah Jang administration for releasing funds to effect the payments but pleaded for timely release of the funds for subsequently payments to avert delays.
"We are paying the scholarship meant for 2012 in 2013 because the money was not released early.
"We are, therefore, pleading with the State Government to release the 2013 scholarship on time so that we would be able to pay students before the year runs out," she said.
The National President of the National Association of Plateau Students (NAPS), Mr Promise Yatu, thanked the governor for the gesture, saying: "This is a sign that our governor has the interest of the students at heart.
"His quest of putting Plateau on the map of educationally advanced states in the country is genuine,’’ he stated.
Yatu, however, called for an upward review of the awards, stressing that N5,000 was a small amount, considering the economic situation in the country.
In his remarks, Dashen commended the board for a job well done, stressing that payment of the award indicates the commitment of Gov. Jonah Jang to his promise in terms of students’ welfare.
"What is being paid is not taking off the cost of educating these students, but is a way of appreciating the effort of parents of Plateau who are trying within their meagre incomes to educate their children.
"It is not out of place for students to start complaining that the award is low and make appeal for a review.
"I am very sure as resources permit, the governor will not hesitate to make an upward review," he said.
Dashen explained that he was going round to get inputs, especially on challenges in the process of payments and students’ opinions toward improving and making the system better.
He said that government would do everything necessary to ensure early payment of the award in 2013.