Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: MPs for Fairer Student Loans

Dodoma — MEMBERS of Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly supported a private motion moved in the House on Wednesday by Mr Mwigulu Nchemba (Iramba West-CCM) seeking enactment of a law on higher education funding to enable all qualified students to join higher learning institutions.

The motion was also supported by the government with Education and Vocational Training Minister Shukuru Kawamba insisting that the aim was to facilitate bursary allocation for students in higher learning institutions."The proposal can also be accommodated with some adjustments of the Education Act Number 8 of 2001 in conformity with the regulations that led to the enactment of the Higher Education Students Loan Board Act Number 9 of 2004.

The aim is to make sure that all qualified students join higher learning institutions," Dr Kawambwa said.Presenting the motion, Mr Nchemba said since the Higher Education Students Loan's Board (HESLB) became effective in 2005/2006, applicants have been receiving loans for meals, accommodation, tuition fees, stationery, special faculty requests, field work and research costs with special facility for disabled students.

"Allocation of education loans at the moment is based on an individual applicant's financial ability, orphans and prioritized national programmes. The aim was to give learning opportunities to qualified students through cost sharing. "Official records show that the demand has been growing by 15 per cent annually indicating that unless some control measures are adopted by 2014/15 the budget for higher education will increase to 69 per cent," Mr Nchemba explained.

Giving statistics, the MP said the number of students receiving loans has increased from 42,729 in 2005/6 to 93,149 in 2011/12 in tandem with the growing budget for the purpose from 56.1bn/- in 2005/6 to 326bn/- in 2012/13."Up until the 2011/12 academic year, a total of 154,519 students have benefited under the arrangement since 2005/6 amounting to 1.133tri/-. Apart from the increasing demand it is obvious that many cannot afford the expenses.

"With exponential growth of the number of applicants resulting from an increasing number of Form Six qualified students, the government's ability to accommodate the situation is also dwindling," he explained.He said as an example that in the 2012/13 academic year, there were 48,788 applicants but only 30,144 received loans, insisting that there should be a sustainable mechanism to identify more revenue sources to cope with the growing demand to make sure that all qualified students have access to higher education.

Proposed sources include social security funds, which should set aside education benefits for members, education bond and establishment of an education fund similar to the road fund to make sure that all students get 100 per cent loan irrespective of specialization as the focus is to invest in human resources.

Ms Margreth Sitta (Special Seats-CCM), who is also the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Services and a former Minister for Education, said the motion was timely as more students need to have access to higher learning opportunities.On his part, Mr Joseph Silinde (Mbozi West - Chadema) advised the government to go through a report prepared by Prof Makenya Maboko whose committee conducted a research and made proposals on the best way for the (HESLB) to operate.

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