By Francis Kagolo
Education minister Jessica Alupo has inaugurated the board to manage the students’ tuition loan scheme with a stern warning to members against corruption.
Chaired by Prof. Calisto Locheng, a lecturer of philosophy at Alokolum National Major Seminary in Gulu, the nine-member board was inaugurated at the ministry’s headquarters in Kampala Tuesday.
The Government has earmarked sh5b for 1,000 pioneer students but the ministry is seeking for sh16b to increase the number to at least 5,000 students.
Alupo said the scheme will start with undergraduate science courses in this year’s pilot programme while postgraduate students will come on board later.
But there are plans under the Uganda Students’ Higher Education Financing Policy to provide loans for arts and humanities courses that will be approved by the Board.
According to the policy, at full implementation, 60% of the loan money will go to non-science courses and 40% to sciences.
The aim is to bridge the non-sciences to sciences enrollment ratio in institutions of higher learning from the current 4:1 to 3:2.
Alupo warned board members against bribery, saying priority should go to needy students.
“The scheme is to address the problem of inequitable access to higher education. Many students cannot afford the ever increasing tuition fees. The board should look out for those who cannot afford fees in a transparent manner,” she said.
Prof. Locheng also promised to facilitate a transparent system. “People are looking at us to deliver. We come in with energy to deliver a noble dream for the development of Uganda,” he said.
The proposal to introduce the students’ loan scheme in Uganda was first mooted in 1990. The popular respondents’ view was that financing should be based on need but not type of the course.
However, the final policy wants the ministry to cater for courses that will equip students with the necessary skills for national development.
Other members of the Board include Prof. Asibo Opuda, the executive director of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Prof. Christine Dranzoa, vice chancellor Muni University, and Solome Luwaga, a council member of the Federation of Uganda Employers.
Elizabeth Gabona, the director of higher education represents the ministry on the Board which also consists of Bro. Legesi Mwanika, the treasurer general of the National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU).
Other members include Esther Kyozira, secretary of the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), William Ndoleriire, assistant commissioner for social services in the ministry of finance.
Mohammad Sserwadda, executive secretary of the Uganda national students’ association and member of the loan Board, pledged to sensitise needy students especially in rural districts to to seize the loans opportunity.