Students ask Opportunities Commission to ensure equal access of loan scheme

Students ask Opportunities Commission to ensure equal access of loan scheme

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Students at Bukalasa Agricultural college in Luweero district have asked the Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure equal access to the loan scheme by both learners in rural and urban areas.

The loans are issued by the Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB), a government entity established in 2014 to provide both loans and scholarships to Ugandan students to pursue higher education.

On Tuesday, the board released a list of 1,113 successful loan scheme applicants for the academic year 2020/21, many of them male applicants from urban areas. The board has handled 26,698 applicants for loans to join higher education in the last six years of its existence.

But students in rural areas say many of them are yet to benefit from the scheme citing lack of awareness about the application process. Kennedy Candia a student from Maracha district says that he is financially constrained and cannot afford to pay tuition in time, yet his attempts to find information on how to access the loan was not readily available when he needed it.

Another student, Vicky Aciro says that many needy students have missed exams whereas others failed to join the higher institutions over lack of tuition. Aciro says if the loan scheme was intended to benefit such people, there should be enough information for those seeking to access the loan.

Faith Tusingwire, a student from Kampala city says she accessed the information through the board website but adds that those with limited access to the internet are disadvantaged because no other avenues have been used to publicise the scheme. Others say the loan scheme has instead benefit privileged students in urban areas.

While interacting with officials from the Equal Opportunities Commission at Bukalasa Agricultural College on Wednesday, the students asked the Commission to recommend streamlining and equal access to loans by students in rural and urban areas. They asked the commission to push the board to conduct sensitization meetings in schools and enable learners to know how to apply for the loans.

Juma Waira, the Senior Education Officer at the Equal Opportunities Commission pledged  that concerns raised by the students will be forwarded to the Higher Education Students’ Financing Board and the Ministry of Education and Sports.



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