PRESIDENT Ali Mohamed Shein has approved ‘maintenance loans for living costs’ for students in higher learning institutions in the country and promised to improve their learning environment.
The president’s move is a response to frequent requests from students benefiting from the education loan, to the government to provide them with funds to support their living while studying.
Speaking at a ‘performance evaluation meeting’ with board members of the ‘Zanzibar Higher Education Loans Board (ZHELB), board of directors, and senior staffs from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Dr. Shein said providing ‘Maintenance Loan for living costs’ in addition to the tuition fee loan would make students work harder in their studies.
“It is high time our students get the ‘maintenance loan’, because we need them to psychologically settle and concentrate on education,” said Dr Shein during the meeting with the education and loan board officers at the State House yesterday.
According to a press release from the State House, Dr Shein could not end the meeting with ZHELB and Ministry of education staffs without reminding them on the need to press loan beneficiaries to service their loans.
“For students who get loans, the funds should be paid back without delays. They should willingly return the money as soon as they graduate and get employed. This is a revolving fund, others need to borrow,” Dr Shein said.
At the meeting also attended by the Minister of Education and Vocational Training Ms Riziki Pembe Juma and the Board Chairperson Mr Kombo Hassan Juma, the president commended ZHELB for the good work so far, as he issued directives that all student debtors avoiding to pay back their loans should be hunted and asked to pay.
Minister Riziki said the number of applicants for the education loan has been increasing as she thanked the ‘Zanzibar Social Security Fund (ZSSF)’ for introducing loans to employees, mainly in the private sector, who plan to pursue further education, Mr Kombo said that ongoing initiatives to ensure that the paying back of loans has been productive as the annual collection has been increasing with an average of 100m/= monthly, anticipating to collect 1.5bn/= during the period of 2017/2018 fiscal year.
Since the establishment of the ZHELB six years ago, more than five thousand students have benefited from the loan, with unpaid debt total amount of 4bn/=, and that efforts are underway to make 2,899 students’ debtors yet to pay.