Tanzania is among a few African countries which have excelled in putting in place an exemplary loan scheme for students in institutions of higher learning, prompting many other countries in the continent to follow suit.
The Executive Director of the Higher Education Students' Loans Board (HESLB), Mr Abdul-Razaq Badru, made the revelation during a meeting with a delegation of officials from Sierra Leone who are in the country for a one-week visit to learn about Tanzania's loan scheme.
The delegation was led by Sierra Leone's Deputy Minister for Technical and Higher Education, Dr Turad Senesie, who was flanked by that country's Principal Deputy Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr Matthew Dingie, and other high-ranking officials.
The scheme which offers loans to students in universities was established over 15 years ago and despite some teething challenges here and there, has registered considerable successes, Mr Abdul-Razaq noted.
According to Mr Badru, other countries which have picked a leaf from Tanzania's higher education students' loans scheme include Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi and Namibia, among others in the continent.
Currently, there are only ten countries in Africa with loans schemes for students in higher institutions of learning and Tanzania is among the top three in the continent, according to the HESLB chief executive.
"Some countries don't see the need to re-invent the wheel and therefore come to us to learn on best practices of operating the scheme," he explained.
The HESLB boss pointed to the fact that had it not been for the scheme, many students from poor families would not have been in position to pursue high-level academic studies.
Speaking at the occasion, the head of the Sierra Leonean delegation, Dr Senesie, said the team had learned a lot of things on running of the system through their engagementwith different stakeholders in Tanzania.
"It was through the engagement that we have been enlightened on the legal structure, policy as well as disbursement and recovery of the loans. We are African brothers and thus a model development in the continent is ideal for us," the deputy minister remarked.
Dr Senesie stressed that his country would not reinvent the wheel on the model developed by Tanzania but would instead expand the scope of funding by exploring other sources of financing. In Tanzania, it is the government which dishes the loans.
The amount loaned is based on a cost sharing policy and the financial ability of the central government. The scheme loan is meant to supplement the efforts of parents and guardians and came into force after enactment of Act No.9 of 2004 by the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania.
The delegation from Freetown also includes Mr Mohammed Gondoe, (Deputy Director General, National Social Security and Insurance Trust), Dr Alhassan Mansaray (Director, Fiscal Risk Management, Ministry of Finance) as well as Dr Ezekiel Duramany-Lakkoh (Head of Department, University of Sierra Leone) and Mr Osman Kamara (Senior Budget Officer, Ministry of Finance).