Fifteen service persons who acquitted themselves well in the first National Service Urban Sanitation Module (USM) have been awarded full scholarships to pursue courses in Integrated GIS systems and geomatic engineering in India and The Netherlands.
In all, 92 service persons who were among the 1,500 employed under the module from 2015 to 2016 to collect data on the siting of properties with tablets and android phones using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) were awarded in two categories for their excellent performance on the field.
While 51 of the service persons were awarded as the best in gathering information and improving data, 41 were awarded for being the best in data collection.
The top three awardees, who were named as Mr Rashid Haruna Ali, Mr Stephen Gyaminah Nuamah and Ms Anita Koomson respectively, received souvenirs from the sponsors and cash prizes.
Prizes awarded included tablets, branded power banks, flash drives and polo shirts. All recipients were presented with certificates while the ultimate winner, Mr Ali, received a trophy in addition.
The first of its kind, the USM was born through a fruitful collaboration between the National Service Secretariat (NSS) and Melchia Investments, a wholly owned Ghanaian firm, in a nationwide financing and technical initiative known as the National Waste Bin Distribution Programme (NaWaBin).
Originally the goal of the programme, which started in June 2015, was to develop a geospatial (data with a geographical location) platform with an integrated waste bin distribution and collection database system, to increase nationwide waste bin distribution and collection.
However, it has evolved into a programme to build on previous government initiatives such as the Ghana Street Naming Initiative among others, to expand Ghana’s digital geospatial footprint to facilitate easy access to data for planning and other purposes.
The SINSAS Awards
Speaking to the media on the awards, the Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies, Mr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, said: “What I personally believe is that our young ones need to be encouraged and to be supported to do a lot of things that will help in industry and especially in technology.”
“Technology is always developing and advancing organisations and one of the best things to do is to see how best you can use people, build their capacity to develop in such area and that is what we are doing.”
Mr Agyepong stressed that the initiative seeks to sustain those who pass through the National Service Scheme, adding, “The national service persons should not be a liability to the country, so we need to lift them to the next level, develop them as each of them has their capacity of certain services that they can provide to this nation.”
The Chief Executive of Subah, Mr Birendra Sasmal, said the scholarship had a budget of $3 million every year, and would cover about $50,000 in tuition alone for each person aside from other expenses.
He indicated that the awards was part of their capacity-building plans and would be held every year to serve as an example for other youth to do such activities in different sectors.
The Acting Director of the NSS, Dr Michael Kpessa Whyte, said the trained service persons had been assured jobs with the district assemblies to help in revenue collection. He said the number of service persons in the USM had been increased this year to 2,000.
Sharing his experience, Mr Ali, a biochemistry graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon, said he was posted to La Nkwatanang Municipal Assembly (LaNMA) at Madina to do data collection, but he was re-posted to the Assembly to monitor evaluation, which involved visiting districts where other service personnel had been posted to check their quality of work, do validation and report to management for other decisions to be made so that corrections are made to the system.
“I moved to the operations department to check whether our system was actually working using the Otano and Nmai Djorn district areas in the Adentan Municipality as the pilot area. We did the distribution putting out about 1,000 bins in the system and it was quick and the accuracy that we needed was just there and there were very few errors,” he said.