18 January 2018

Tanzania: Diversify Your Sources of Fund, MPs Tell Student Loan's Board

HIGHER Education Student's Loan Board (HESLB) was yesterday challenged to diversify its funding sources instead of merely relying on the government.

The Parliamentary Public Investment Committee (PIC) advised the board to eye the private sector as well to meet the demand of thousands of qualified students from financially challenged families.

The Committee Chairperson and Buhigwe lawmaker, Mr Albert Obama, gave the advice here at a meeting between the committee and the board management. HESLB also presented its performance report, indicating that it was still struggling to give loans to all eligible university applicants.

"HESLB law has identified at least six sources of fund but since the board was established, you have purely been relying on government support," argued the MP.

He said even though, the board has revised its strategic plan 2018-2022, the document is not clear on the actual loan demands, target number of beneficiaries and future projections.

Other committee members echoed the chairperson'ssentiments, arguing that it was high time the board reconsidered negotiating with financial institutions and other private institutions on higher education funding mechanism.

Special Seats MP (CUF) Riziki Said Lulida said, "There is need for HESLB to meet with the banking sector and chart out the best system of providing loans."

"The Board is seemingly under-capacitated," charged another Committee Member and Geita Urban legislator (CCM) Constantine Kanyasu. He said the board's decision to negotiate with other institutions will enable it to raise sufficient funds to support thousands of students excluded from tertiary education.

"The board has to increase its funding sources," said the legislator, noting that the main objective of the loan scheme is to help students from poor families to get education. HESLB Executive Director Abdul-Razaq Badru told the parliamentarians that the board had studied the plan and found that the financial sector loan rates were too high for the poor Tanzanian students to afford.

"Considering accumulations, it could have been too expensive for students to repay their loans. However, we are flexible as the board and we welcome all constructive recommendations," he observed.

The board's report which HESLB Chairman, Professor William Anangisye presented before the committee showed that the board had between 2005 and 2017 issued over 3tri/- as higher education loans to 404,425 students.

He admitted that lack of a national system to identify actual recipients as well as huge difference between those in need against the available resource was a big challenge to the students' loan scheme.

Prof Anangisye said in the meantime the board had revised its strategic plan (2018/22) aiming at improving optimal collection and lending, business processes re-engineering and adopting strategic partnering.

The committee members urged the board to review its funding mechanism with the view of ensuring eligible applicants are not left out.

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