Dar-es-salaam -Prospective beneficiaries of higher education loans for the 2021/22 academic year have reason to smile – thanks to government plans to raise the loans budget by about eight percent.
The current budget for the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) stands at Sh464 billion. But deputy Education minister Omary Kipanga told Parliament in Dodoma yesterday that the plan is to raise it to Sh500 billion in the 2021/22 fiscal year.
The move, he said, will be continuation of government efforts in reaching more qualified students so they would access higher education.
He was responding to a question by Mr Atupele Mwakibete (Busokelo; CCM) who wanted to know government plans towards ensuring that all eligible students from across the country benefitted from the loans.
In response, Mr Kipanga said for the 2020/21 academic year, a total of 66,374 students applied for the loans, but only 55,318 were successful in their applications.
“This means there are more than 11,000 students who were eligible but could not secure a loan. That is why we continue to improve this budget so that all qualified students can access the loans,” said Mr Kipanga.
He said the government has been increasing the budget for higher education loans whereas in the 2017/18 financial year it allocated Sh427 billion, which rose to Sh464 in the 2020/21 financial year.
In another development, the ministry has said it would review the existing law on levies on higher education loans in order to find a solution to long-standing grievances.
Recently, there have been concerns that sparked debate over what was deemed as heavy burden of deductions that beneficiaries face after graduating.
Yesterday, Special Seats MP Halima Mdee asked in Parliament when the government would table a motion on a review of the loans law to relieve beneficiaries of the heavy burden.
In response, Mr Kipanga admitted knowledge of complaints and pledged to submit proposals to either cancel or reduce the levies.
“We are going to look at it by reviewing all the levies and then we will table a motion on how we are going to deal with these challenges,” said Mr Kipanga.