The Higher Education Students Loans and Grants Board (HESL&GB) has committed to pay tuition for 38 College of Medicine (CoM) students who were on the brink of withdrawing from their studies.
Two weeks ago, the needy students, who received partial loans from the board, were barred from sitting mid-semester examinations although they were allowed later to sit the exams while those who had not paid anything were stopped from sitting the examinations.
The Nation published the story last Thursday and in a reaction to the story, the loans board executive director Chris Chisoni, who had earlier indicated that there is nothing the board could do about the students, informed the paper that there were some internal discussions within the board and they decided to support the students.
“Thirty-eight is a big number and we have decided to support them so that they should not withdraw from the college. As such, we will be working with the registrar and dean of students of the College of Medicine to furnish us with the details and the balances which some of these students are expected to top up and the loans board will do the needful.
“We provided loans to about 220 students from College of Medicine and if some of them have managed to top up while others have failed, it means they are very needy and there is nothing they can do about it. As such, we will take up the responsibility to make sure these students remain in school,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
CoM dean of students Associate Professor Fanuel Lampiao confirmed that the college got communication from the loans board, notifying them of the decision to offer loans to the needy students.
“As of now, I am compiling a list of the students’ names and the balances they are remaining with in order to send it to the loans board as requested,” said Lampiao in a telephone interview.
Commenting on the development, education activist Limbani Nsapato, who previously indicated that it is unfortunate that the students found themselves is such a situation, said the loans board’s commitment is a positive development.
He also said there is need for a sustainable solution which requires involvement of all stakeholders. He said at the same time, parents and students should understand that higher education is expensive and a cost-sharing of some kind should be encouraged.
“In addition HESL & GB should perfect the screening mechanism to ensure that beneficiaries of the loan scheme should be only those who deserve, since there are reports that some of the students who are receiving the loans do not need such loans as they come from richer families; or indeed some students may get loans by trick through providing false information about their status,” said Nsapato in a written response to a questionnaire.