Ogun state topped the list of beneficiaries of the 2014/2015 Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development (PRESSID) awards claiming 17 out of the 104 slots. PRESSID was introduced by President Goodluck Jonathan last year as part of initiatives to encourage the first-class graduates to study in the top 25 universities in the world up to masters and Ph.D levels. The 2014/2015 awardees who were between the ages of 22-25 were 28 females and 76 males and was an improvement of last year when the awardees were 20 females and 81 males.
During the presentation of certificates, the supervising minister of education, Barr Nyesom Wike, said
this is the first time in Nigeria, we have a programme whose selection process is purely on merit.
He said that through the presidential scholarship initiative, the Federal Government planned to develop a critical mass of professionals who would serve as catalysts of change agents of scientific and technological advancement, as well as sustainable economic development.
At the event, the executive secretary of NUC (National University Commission), Prof Julius Okojie revealed that out of 2,000 entries received, but only 623 candidates were shortlisted to sit for the the Computer-Based aptitude test on December 10, 2013. Successful candidates of the scheme were asked to apply to study in any of the top 25 universities in the world approved for the scheme and 104 candidates scaled the final hurdle in a highly competitive process which was done purely on merit.
The search for qualified students was based on candidates that obtained first class honours degree from any recognised and approved university nationwide and the scheme offers the 104 beneficiaries scholarship up to PhD level. The candidates had applied for selected programmes in Engineering, Technology, Sciences, Basic Medical Sciences, Medicine and Economics among other fields, where the country might be experiencing shortfalls.