By assenting to the student loan scheme, President Museveni has pressed in the hands of Education Minister
First, the Shs5 billion reportedly set aside by Finance minister
Second, Alupo must be wary of the ghosts of entandikwa, an equally well-meaning credit scheme President Museveni launched some 19 years ago. The scheme collapsed – taking down with it billions of shillings – due to corruption among its implementers and failure by most recipients to repay the money partly because of the "Gavumenti etuyambe" (Government should help us) mindset.Alupo must strive to ensure that the technical team appointed to put in place a proper mechanism for disbursement and recovery of the loans must comprise competent individuals. They must be knowledgeable in the complex aspects such as customer relationship management, systems design and application, capture of borrowers' data and electronic content management. The team will need time – six months is too short – to adequately sensitise loan borrowers and their parents, guardians or sponsors on how to comply with the relevant law and regulations. Repayment plans must be specific and penalties for defaulting must also be clearly spelled out.In their 2011 paper, "Student Loan Policies in
They note that a key strategy to increase access to higher education in many countries has been to implement a student loans scheme as a means of sharing the costs involved in the expansion of higher education. In this sense, they argue, student loans transfer higher education costs from a significant reliance on governments and taxpayers to parents and students, based on the rationale that greater equity in access to higher education is achieved through the user-pay system.
Hong and Chae, therefore, reckon that when students and parents assume the costs of higher education through tuition fees, the government can spend the excess funding resulting from this shift in cost burden on financial aid to needy students. In this way, student loans have the potential to reform financial efficiency and accessibility of higher education. Here, the phrase "aid to needy students" appears to be a more plausible and acceptable basis for student loans than the potentially discriminatory pronouncements by some
According to Hong and Chae, two basic forms of student loans have existed for many years in advanced economies such as
"Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an Academic Revolution", a report prepared for the Unesco 2009
Yet the report shows that private higher education institutions, many of them for-profit or quasi for-profit, represent the fastest-growing sector worldwide. It cites
It tells us that
It is mainly for this reason that we have had similar policies such as the 1995 entandikwa scheme veering off-course and falling into a bottomless pit along with sorely needed financial resources that would have made a significant difference in our country's efforts at poverty reduction through income-generating activities.This time around, we must have a solid strategy to ensure that the student loan scheme will be successfully sustained through carefully-planned short to long-term phases to spur socio-economic transformation in our society.Otherwise, be prepared to write off some more billions of shillings of tax-payers' money.
Mr Akwap is a lecturer at
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