Only 84 of 13,000 students have paid back their loan - AG report

Education
Only 84 of 13,000 students have paid back their loan - AG report
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Initiated in 2014, the student loan scheme has to-date benefited 13, 207 learners, including 4,207 females. Only 84 beneficiaries have fully paid back their loans yet over 7,000 have completed school.

KAMPALA | Of the 13,207 student loan beneficiaries, only 84 have fully paid back the money, with the defaulters sinking the taxpayer deeper into a Shs19.4 billion loss.

Education experts are wary of the trend. They are call for amendment in the payment mechanisms of the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board Act 2014 to make the programme more meaningful to both the government and the beneficiaries.

Initiated in 2014, the student loan scheme has to-date benefited 13, 207 learners, including 4,207 females. Only 84 beneficiaries have fully paid back their loans yet over 7,000 have completed school.

The Auditor General, in its 2022/23 report, says the student loan scheme has recovered Shs1.1 billion out of the expected Shs20.6 billion, translating to a loss of Shs19.4 billion.

The Executive Director of the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board, Michael Wanyama, says no stringent measures and mechanisms are available to truck recoveries from beneficiaries.

The same report advises that there should be a specific board put to track beneficiaries in both the private sector and the public service, something that seems new to the executive director's ears.

"Maybe the AG meant renewal of our board since it had expired," said Wanyama. "I've never heard of that request being discussed."

Among the beneficiaries of the student loan scheme is a student of Makerere University, who in the year 2022 pursued a Bachelor of Information Systems and Technology.

The student (name withheld) says the scheme paid her over Shs3 million during her first semester, a sum she’s not willing to pay since there is no truck of the amount on the university portal.

Section 17 of the higher education student Financing law states that every student loan shall be repayable with interest which shall be determined by the Minister in consultation with the minister responsible for finance.

Kagaba William, an educator, says that failure to amend the law is one of the major causes of recovery difficulties.

To curb the gaps within the student loan scheme, the board has resolved to work hand in hand with different government agencies that have larger data bases.

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