Great news for aspiring university students who can’t afford their own fees. Instead of borrowing from banks or loan sharks, putting sports bets on Muyaayu FC for the Nakawa Division Midnight Leagues, stealing the money from me, or even being tweeted with a metal case, you can apply for a student loan from the regime! Isn’t that the sort of thing that makes you want to stitch up your torn jeans and salute in ecstasy?
Yup. The student loan scheme has been running for five years now; they started when you were in S2, wearing shorts, sucking your thumb and the only future you were capable of envisioning was next period, and this years rollout comprises 1,800 successful applicants.
1,800 young Ugandans can now attend college and pursue their dreams.
Unless your dream is to be a world-famous dancer, abstract artist, spoken word performer or print media journalist, in which case, put that nonsense on hold for a minute, get a loan and pursue a degree first.
Now, you know there are going to be the negative voices and the critical sneers and the haters. I am all three to the following extent: I am going to advise that some of you don’t take these loans.
For example, if you wish to contribute to Uganda’s development by becoming a teacher and furthering the education of our generation inna di nation, don’t take the loan.
Here is why: You will be required to begin repayments one year after graduation. Failure to achieve this yields results more dire and distressing than mere failure to get a job– the cops will arrest you and have you tossed into jail for a year. Then, when you emerge after your sentence, you will not only have a prison record to add to your CV while you get back into the fickle Ugandan job-hunting that got you into this mess in the first place, but you will have an extra million shillings to pay, which is the fine for the loan default.
Now, if you can get the loan for a course in a lucrative field like diploma in Socialite Studies, Internet Fraud, Prosperity Gospel Scam Management, Corruption Administration or something other promising, growing marketable industry, then by all means apply away.
But don’t apply to become a teacher.
Say you do get a job before the one year grace period is up. Say you get a job with the state, as one of its teachers. Say you work hard and diligently and give it your all, every datum of information that loan paid for applied assiduously to the craft of inspiring, informing and educating the next generation. When the year is up and you are called upon to Rihanna them dimes…
You will have to walk to the office of your campus ex who studied Law and ask them what to do. You will walk because you can’t afford OTT, airtime or a boda, being that you have not been paid in ages, being that you are a teacher on government payroll.
Teachers are notorious for not getting paid enough or on time. That and contributing to the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies in Uganda. It’s one in four girls, by the way, so be alarmed. We are not safe.
But back to the lighthearted satire, now. If you have not been paid by government, and government is preparing to demand that you pay them back money, where does that leave you legally, O young Mwalimu?
Can they arrest you when it is their fault that you cannot pay?
Does the loan cancel itself out?
Why didn’t you just study for Diploma in Boda Boda Cartography and Panya Route Squeezeingology instead?
I am going to hazard a guess as to the answers here. Yes, no and you see, in that order.
But as for those who voted wisely in electing which course to borrow for, good luck. We look forward to hiring you, or sending you our job applications in a few years. Go read something else now. Something related to your course. This article is finished.