New student loan scheme poorly marketed

 FIONA MPOFU                  

A newly launched government loan scheme for tertiary institutions may be helpful but is being poorly marketed as students and parents have little to no knowledge of the programme. 

The scheme has been viewed as a good initiative to help students pay the tertiary fees in the current ailing economic state that the country is in.

According to a notice issued by the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) on their notice boards and staff emails, the loans were available and students were invited to apply as from August.

The notice stated that the loans must be repaid either during the course of learning or soon after completion of studies and the funds paid to the institution would be used to pay accommodation, tuition and ancillary charges. 

Lisa Muronde a Student Representative Council (SRC) member said this was a good initiative considering the current economic state in Zimbabwe and the prevailing tradition both in Africa and Zimbabwe of favouring the boy child over the girl child when it came to providing access to education. 

“The availability of loans means more girls could have access to education which is a good thing because  women have potential which is often overlooked because of society’s misconception and not prioritising women's education, especially when funds are limited. This will give women a fair chance,” said Lisa. 

Ashley Sibanda a NUST student said the scheme is a good way of granting financially challenged learners more time to gather their tuition fees money in this current economic situation. 

“The student loans will reduce the number of girls looking for sugar daddies in tertiary institutions as their tuition fees would have been covered by the loan,” said Celine Sky a part 3 student at NUST

However a parent Sharon Nyanzira upon being interviewed said she had no knowledge of the existence of the loan and keen to attain more information on the programme too.

Not much effort was made by the University to popularise the introduction of the loan scheme in this technologically driven era where students own phones and the University has their email addresses. 

“I believe that the information should be disseminated from the ministry, to our administration, and then to the students and so far that has not happened,” said the SRC president Dennis Mwashita. 

 Muronde added that the loan was not being advertised properly and this has made students to be sceptical of the loan as they had little to no knowledge of the provisions of the loan. She suggested that a session should be held to give people more information on the loans eligibility. 

A NUST student Hannah told this publication that the loan scheme was loop holed as it was awarding first preference to students in the science department. 

Mwashita added that the scheme is still unclear as they have not heard of any student who has been granted the loan regardless of the fact that some of the learners at the institution have begun applying for it.

“The only issue that is there, is there hasn’t been substantiality in terms of the loans being issued out. It is still not clear whether loans are there, though people have started applying  to the administration, it is still not clear,” said the SRC president. 

He added, “It hasn’t been clear what is really happening with the loans, we just know that a policy was passed and we should get loans but up to now we haven’t gotten one student who has gotten that loan.”

According to the notice posted by the University, the students eligible for the loan will be selected by an Institution’s committee, the forms completed by successful students will then be sent to CBZ bank for further vetting and awarding of the loans. 

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