President Rawlings and Greg Parbey[/caption] Former President Jerry John Rawlings has urged members of the Cuban Trained Ghanaian Graduates Association (ESBECAN) to be more politically active in order to influence national development. He noted that though ESBECAN is a well-organized group with significant membership, it had maintained quite a low profile in the area of active politics. The former President indicated that involvement in the activities of the National Democratic Congress would go a long way to influence the required change the party needs as it recovers from the last electoral humiliation. Speaking during a meeting with Greg Parbey, President of ESBECAN at his office on Monday, Mr. Rawlings said the knowledge and expertise of Cuban trained graduates had positively affected several fields of endeavour in the country with the exception of governance. The time had come, he noted for the graduates to influence national discourse and policy by vying for political party positions and ensuring that their influence is brought to bear on the country’s development agenda. Former President Rawlings also criticised the declining integrity in regional balance with respect to the selection of scholarship candidates for Cuba and other international educational institutions. He called on ESBECAN as a pressure group to keep an eye on the selection process, as in the recent past influence appeared to have overridden ability or merit, leading to a deviation from the regional balance of the past. In 1983 following consultations between Ghana then led by Flt Lt Rawlings and Cuba, the first batch of 609 Ghanaian students travelled to Cuba as pioneer students at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial School at the Isle of Youth in Cuba. Over the last thirty years, more than 2000 Ghanaian students have benefited from Government scholarships and graduated from various institutions in Cuba as medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, biomedical scientists, engineers, architects, veterinary doctors, agronomists, accountants, economists, statisticians, computer scientists and many more. ESBECAN has brought these various professionals into a resourceful group that engages in various philanthropic activities and educational activities as well as supporting each other in various ways.