Recently the Minister of Education, Jessica Alupo released the list of beneficiaries that had been selected to acquire loans at the Uganda Media Centre
By Charlotte Ninsiima
Recently the Minister of Education, Jessica Alupo released the list of beneficiaries that had been selected to acquire loans at the Uganda Media Centre; this brightened the facial looks of vulnerable students that had been worn out with worry.
Amidst criticisms from some Members of Parliament that were centred on how arts and humanities students were left out from the opportunity, the Higher Education Student's Financing Board was busy finalising with the selection process.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Uganda having a population of 34.5 million people with an overwhelming 23.1 million prone to poverty is a disease not even a disaster! The latter population elk a living from odd jobs, while at the same time, surviving on less than $2 (approximately sh5,000) per day.
According to their mindset, the highest level of education is usually estimated at O' Level and sometimes those who by chance or hard work (fend for school fees) at A 'Level. Of course this cuts short one's journey towards their (destined) career.
The student loan scheme comes with great news to the beneficiaries, who had been having endless thoughts on how they would afford to pay millions of money for their university education for they can now have a reason to smile. Why not anyway! I commend the government for having implemented the student's loan scheme into action.
Along the way, too many questions were partially answered like how will the repayment of the loan be monitored after the studies (In case the person works outside Uganda)? What if someone does not get the job within two years time?
From the horse’s mouth, the 5bn loan scheme was introduced to increase the number of needy students accessing higher education especially catering for science courses commencing this financial year 2014/2015. The arts and humanities were guaranteed the opportunity next year incase more funds are allocated to the scheme.
Out of 2,109 that applied, only 1,269 were selected from 12 certified universities. As usual the public universities were prioritised and Kampala International University scooped the largest number of beneficiaries at the end of the day. Others like Uganda Christian University, Uganda Martyrs University, Nkrumah, Ndejje, and Bugema followed the lead on the private list. This widened the intake capacity of students in science related courses. On a good point of view, it urges the financially unstable pupil in A’ Level to read hard to attain the opportunity.
According to New Vision, September9, 2014, Professor Callisto Locheng informed the press that the smallest loan advanced this year is sh1,750,000 for Bachelor of Education at Gulu and the highest at sh6,782,000 for a science degree in civil engineering at Uganda Christian University. The beneficiaries ought to take studies seriously otherwise I foresee a deficit budget in time to come. The beneficiaries will keep in the vicious cycle of poverty if at all he/she works to pay back the debt plus interest rate of 7% in three year’s time after studies. No savings! No investments made!
The country’s economy will be stagnant comprising of a number of debtors who are youth. When I gave it a thought, it seemed unbearable to get used to. The President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni earlier on advised students to avoid being at fault with the law, at while launching the scheme at Kyambogo University in May.
According to the Higher Education Student Financing Board Act 2014, one is liable to six month prisonment or a fine of one million or both, failure to comply with the terms of payment. This clearly initiates discipline amongst debtors in terms of repayment. The interest rate fairly adjusted during inflation and not exceeding 10%.
Besides, the Government giving about 4,000 university scholarships each year, and sponsoring thousands of other students in other tertiary institutions. Tens of thousands of students who do not get the competitive government scholarships depend on their relatives to pay their tuition and upkeep.
However, the Government intervened by providing free education at primary level (Universal Primary Examinations) in 1994 and secondary (Universal Secondary Education) in 2007. Now a milestone has been turned to restore the hope that had withered away- the student loan.
I wish to thank the Government on behalf of the beneficiaries for the effort put in to implement the student loan scheme. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
Thanks for student loan