Since Ghana attained independence in 1957, Ghanaian Muslims have largely proved to be forward looking.
Many people the world over consider Ghanaian Muslims as different, as they have decided to follow the injunction of prophet Mohammed [Pbh] to seek knowledge from far and near, to join hands with the civilized world to improve themselves and Ghana through education. Consequently, today many Muslims have made contributions in Ghana’s development through areas of medicine, banking, engineering, education, business and politics among others.
No wonder that countless Muslims are found in top positions of private and public organizations. Yes, today, a sizeable number of Muslims are found in parliament as MPs while others are ministers with one Muslim, Dr. Mahmoud Bawumia as vice president of Ghana following from Alhaji Aliu Mahama who was Vice President under President John Kufuor. With this feat attained, there is no doubt that the current and coming generation of Muslims would follow their footsteps.
The mileage attained by Muslims in Ghana followed the decision of many Muslims and their leadership to move away from the fear of sending their children to secular schools in and outside Ghana. With the establishment of the Islamic Education Unit and Ghana Muslim Students Association [GMSA], the awareness has been created that Muslim children cannot be forced in secular schools to become Christians. We have scores of Muslims who had their education in schools run by Christian missions, yet those people have remained Muslims till date. We can mention a lot of these men that include Dr. Alhasan Mohammed former Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana and Ambassador of Ghana to Saudi Arabia, went to Adisadel College, a Catholic institution, but remained a ‘top notch’ Muslim leader in Ghana.
According to informed sources, the study of the Holy Bible by Muslims rather does for them a world of good, as with that, the Muslim children are able to embark on comparative religious studies meant to help them live peacefully with people belonging to other faiths. Apart from sending Muslim children to secular and schools run by Christian missions many Islamic organizations such as Ghana Muslim mission, Ahlul Sunna Wal Jamma and Islamic Council for Development and Humanitarian Services [ICODEHS] have established many Islamic schools being run across the country as secular institutions. The National Chief Imam Sheikh Dr. Osman Nuhu Sharubutu himself an educationist and preacher, has himself established a number of basic English and Arabic schools culminating in him constructing a magnificent building to be used as a modern university campus at Kasoa in the Central Region. A team of educationists and technocrats are preparing for accreditation for the new university to provide modern courses in management and media studies. Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim chairman of ICODEHS, himself an educationist had this to say about the Chief Imam. ‘his eminence the National Chief Imam of Ghana, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, as many of you, may be aware, is an educationist, a teacher and above all a champion of empowerment through education’.
According to Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim, the Chief Imam believes that through education, every man or woman can and has the potential of achieving what he or she aspires. He believes and associates himself with the saying that ‘an educated and literate person is a master of his or her destiny’
Above all the National Chief Imam has come to realize that not many Muslim parents are capable of supporting their children financially to pursue educational studies.
But he is of the firm belief that, ‘Education should not be a privilege for a few that can afford it in any society but rather a right for every child of school going age from primary to tertiary level’.
Pursuant to this vision the National Chief Imam accepted the proposal to establish the Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu Education Fund [SONSETFUND] in 2009. He set up an executive council with Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim head of ICODEHS, as chairman to work towards promoting quality education among the less privileged in Ghana. 20 years on, SONSETFUND has done a lot in the area of education in Ghana by laying plans to support brilliant but needy students from the Muslim areas in Ghana who constantly appealed to Muslim leaders and the Chief Imam for assistance.
• In the early days of its formation, SONSETFUND linked up with MTN to raise funds through Islamic texts messages by Chief Imam. The proceeds were used in reconstructing some secondary schools in the Upper West and East Regions in Ghana. That was the first of its kind in Ghana by the National Chief Imam which opened up room for the enrolment of more students up north.
• SONSETFUND received books on various subjects from donors in Britain which were distributed to the University of Ghana, University of Development Studies, Islamic University of Ghana among other institutions.
• This was followed by a gigantic step taken to support Muslim and northern students in our tertiary institutions through the students’ loans scheme of Ghana leading to SONSETFUND supporting more than 2000 students to access loans from the Students’ to go through their courses. Some of the students have completed their studies and are said to begin paying back loans granted them.
• Through assistance given to SONSETFUND by the Islamic Council for Development and Humanitarian Services, a school block is being constructed at Abokobi in Accra to serve as a basic school. The project has reached an advanced stage and would be completed soon to enroll pupils in kindergarten and primary classes.
• Since the primary aim of SONSETFUND is to offer support to students from basic schools to tertiary level, a scholarship scheme was established for needy students in various schools in the country.
• Pursuant to the vision on education nineteen  qualified and needy students were awarded bursary worth 35,000GHC to study in various institutions in Greater Accra, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo Northern, Upper West and Eastern Regions.
• The beneficiaries of the scholarships that includes seven women will pursue subjects of interests to the nation including nursing, midwifery, science and technology, business studies, religious studies, development studies and communication studies.
• All the education programs of SONSETFUND could not have been possible without financial support of some individuals and organizations that includes MTN, Ghana Commercial Bank, ICODEHS, the Member of Parliament for Okaikoi North, Patrick Boamah and Yusif Ibrahim Chairman of the GT Bank and Managing Director of Dar es Salaam group of companies.
At a ceremony held at the residence of the National Chief Imam Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim Chairman of ICODEHS and SONSETFUND extended his thanks to all organizations who helped in diverse ways towards the programs of the fund and prayed for God’s blessings and guidance to them all.
By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai