Govt: No hope for loans to 20,000 university students

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry, Consolata Mgimba

The government announced  categorically yesterday that it was unable to cater for loans of about 20,000 students who missed them from Higher Education Students Loan Board (HESLB) due to insufficient budget allocated to the  Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) in the year ending June 2015, the government revealed yesterday.

It is revealed that, MoEVT priority was to issue loans to students pursuing science subjects with an intention of increasing the number of professionals in the field of science. 
In a telephone interview in Dar es Salaam, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry, Consolata Mgimba said they are no longer going to disburse loans to students who missed it as there are no funds.
“The budget we have cannot cater for all the students…there are no hopes of getting it now. It is difficult to sponsor all the students who applied for the loan,” she categorically said. 
Mgimba said that most of the students who missed out the loan are those who applied for courses that are not in the government’s priority. She said students pursuing Mathematics, Engineering, Chemistry, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), specialist doctors and agricultural courses have benefited from it.
The PS narrated that delays in loan repayment by some graduates impede the ministry’s effort in sponsoring more students. She called on loan beneficiaries to repay their loan on time because the demand is too high following an increased number of qualified students who want to join higher learning institutions.
She advised students who missed out the loans to look for alternative means of getting sponsors.
However, Mgimba noted that HESLB faces difficulties in collecting debts because some of the graduates are not formally employed. 
“It becomes difficult for the loan board to trace graduates working in the informal sector…the board can easily trace those in formal employment systems, ” she said.
She said efforts have been made by the government to see whether other financial institutions such as security funds can sponsor the students.
In August last year, more than 20,000 students were reported to have missed out HESLB loan the thing that required them to look for another alternative sources of obtaining the fund to continue with their studies.
HESLB Director of Information, Education and Communication Cosmas Mwaisoba was quoted as saying that, loan board has the capacity of providing the loans to only 30,000 contrary to the 58,037 students who applied for loans up to July 31st in the academic year 2014/15. 
Speaking in  Parliament late last year, Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Dr Shukuru Kawamba said that all subjects taught in schools have equal importance but the government has set priorities according to national and global market demands.
He said during the academic year 2013/14 a total of 20,211 students who pursued non-science subjects were given loans and out of them, 5,392 are in the teaching profession.