Some 1460 Ugandan students and their families are in celebrations after being approved by the Higher Education Students’ Finance Board to receive education loans for the academic year 2017/18.
Commenting on the list of the approved students to receive the loans, the minister of higher education John Chrysestom Muyingo said the development was yet another milestone in the education sector.
“Today, we are registering yet another great milestone in achieving the education sector objective of increasing equitable access to Higher Education. Last year on 8th September 2016, I was at this same place announcing the third beneficiaries of the Student Loan Scheme. I am pleased to be back here to officially release the fourth cohort of the loan beneficiaries,” he said as he congratulated the administrators of the students’ loan facility- Higher Education Students’ Financing Board.
Mr. Muyingo also said the government is determined to address the Sustainable Development Goal number 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all at all levels of Education.
“Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven Vehicle for sustainable development. As government we are in the right direction of achieving this goal that aims at achieving equitable access to affordable Higher Education training,” he said.
According to the Chairperson of the Board, Prof. Callisto Locheng, the loans were awarded to the most-deserving applicants who cannot raise fees. He said the process was transparent and weeded out those who could afford to pay for their education.
Most students who have been approved by the Board come from upcountry districts, and many applied for science courses in line with the government policy of promoting sciences for job creation.
The loan scheme, he said was introduced to support students who are admitted in tertiary Institutions but find difficulties in raising fees. He said many students are now able to obtain loans to pursue higher education and there has been increased numbers of applicants over the years.
This year, the Board received a total of 4218 loan applications, compared to 3764 in 2016/17 academic year. The Board has awarded loans to a total of 1460 as compared to 1325 last year, an increase of 10% .
“For the first time, the Board has awarded loans to 13 students with disabilities to pursue humanities in law (2) and Bachelor of Arts in education (11). Persons with disabilities were considered as a special group because of the eminent problems they go through to pursue sciences .This is a commendable job for which I applaud the Board,” he said.
He said in the coming years, the Government plans to increase the funding to ensure that more students in the participating.
Universities and other Tertiary Institutions who qualify are given assistance so as to attain Higher Education.
“We shall ensure that the beneficiaries double in the successive years. This is one of the ways Government intends to reduce income inequalities and reduce poverty by supporting students through provision of loans for the attainment of Higher Education.
Meanwhile 628 out of the 1,201 students who got loans in 2014/15 completed their studies in 2016/17 and are out in the field, some of them working while others are still looking for employment. The Board has given them a grace period of one year but also encourages early repayment in case you can afford,” he said..
Ms. Hatika Namyalo, one of the students who borrowed the money has paid back her loan to a tune of Shs3,821,000. She pursued a two years course in diploma in Nursing. Ms Namyalo received a certificate for paying back the money in the shortest time possible.
“I call upon other loan beneficiaries to emulate her. I would like to encourage all the loan beneficiaries to work hard and be able to pay the loan on time so as to enable the Board to support other students in need of support,” the minister said.
“To those who are receiving the loans, I would therefore like to encourage them to take their studies seriously and avoid failing examinations and finish their studies in time with excellent grades. This will enable them get jobs and be able to pay back the loans so that other needy students also benefit from the same funds,” he added.