Loans Board secures K7 billion
The Higher Education Students’ Loans and Grants Board (HESLGB) has secured $7 million (about K7 billion) from the World Bank to introduce loans to first-year needy students who use the Open and Distance e-Learning (ODeL) mode.
The funds, obtained through the Skills for Vibrant Economy (Save) Project, will enable the board to provide loans to 1,150 first-year students.
In a statement, signed by executive director Prince Phwetekere, the board indicates that priority will be given to first-year ODeL needy students in undergraduate programmes in line with public and private university or college priorities.
The project’s priority areas include education, health, agriculture, energy, information communications technology and industry.
Phwetekere further indicates that the loans will be disbursed to students at the rate of 60 percent female and 40 percent male.
“With the funding, HESLGB will provide loans to 1,150 first-year needy students. Out of it, 690 loans will be provided to first-year needy students studying [in] degree programmes on ODeL while 460 loans will be provided to needy students studying [in] face-to-face generic degree programmes.
“HESLGB will administer the loan application to first-year ODeL needy students concurrently with the 2023- 24 loan application cycle that is expected to open its application window from April 1 through [to] May 30 2023,” he said.
In an interview, Millie Kasunda, loans’ board spokesperson, said this is the first time they are targeting ODeL students, having observed that most education institutions are using this mode of learning.
“We have also observed that there are a lot of students who are pursuing their education through the ODeL [model] but they are needy,” she said.
Meanwhile, quality education advocate Benedicto Kondowe has welcomed the development.
“After all, ODeL is less costly than physical learning, hence the move would help more needy students access higher education services.
“As such, we are celebrating this opportunity. I think it is also important to pay attention to quality by strengthening the capacity of ODeL so that it is as competitive as the other modes of learning,” he said.
Last year, the board disbursed over K2.5 billion in tuition fees and K1.4 billion in up-keep allowances to students in public universities and K7 million in tuition fees to over 21,000 private college and university students across the country.