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Student loans a headache - PM

29th March 2012
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Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda

The government has called upon education experts in the country to recommend better ways of financing students of higher learning institutions, saying the current system connot be sustained.

The Premier made the remark in his opening speech of the National Conference on Education in Tanzania organised by School of Education University of Dar es Salaam.

Pinda said that the government was currently faced with the challenge of fast rising number of higher education students who need loans compared to its capacity to provide the loans.

He pointed out that the trend of repaying the loans has not been encouraging.

A recent report by the Higher Education Loans Board said 811bn/- were outstanding student loans and that a major hunt for the defaulters was underway, enlisting assistance of the guarantors and local government leaders.

Premier Pinda said that the amount of loans needed by students has been growing over the years, pointing out that in 2004/2005 the government issued loan amounting to 9.9bn/- to 16,345 students but the amount had increased to 148.5bn/- to 69,981 students in 2009/2010.

“It is obvious that the government budget will not sustainably afford to issue loans to every student every year. We need to hear from you if there is any sustainable means of financing students in higher learning institutions,” Pinda said.

Pinda said that apart from the loans challenge there were others facing the sector and called upon education stakeholders to join hands with government in addressing them.

He mentioned some of the challenges as expanding early childhood education and care saying that in Tanzania some children particularly from families in rural areas do not benefit from the early childhood education and care.

Pinda further said that reforms in the education system require education and training at all levels that will strive to attain high quality knowledge and skills.

He said a quick evaluation of the system from primary to university level indicated an acute shortage of competent teachers, policy makers, planners, managers and administrators.

Pinda further said that evaluation of the education system in Tanzania also indicated inadequate number of books, laboratories, latrines, houses for teachers, chairs, , tables hostels computers at all levels of education.

He said the government has been making efforts to reduce the gaps such as increasing amount of funds budgeted for education, educating and employing more teachers, building laboratories and buying more books.

For her part, the Dean of School of Education Eustella Bhalalusesa said the three- day conference’ theme was: “Reflections on Education Reforms in Tanzania, Towards Innovative Approaches.”

She said the Tanzanian education system has been facing enormous challenges exemplified by notable failure rates in the National form four examination results.

“Many people of different walks of life have spoken and commented about these failure rates with general conclusion that our education standards are falling,” she said.

She said the School of Education decided to organise the national forum to deliberate a wide range of issues characterising the education system and provide opportunity for education academics, researchers and policy makers to come up with innovative approaches to address the challenges.

In a letter issued recently by Students bodies at institutions of higher learning advising the government to launch an intensive review of delivery of education in the country the students called upon the government to enter into contract with commercial banks so that they can assist in issuing loans to in-service students.

The students said that in other countries the system has helped to have reliable education to the students.

They said the system will help to reduce the government burden of students who need loans.

Students said that the government has the chance to choose the bank by discussing with in- service students and agreeing to set up a system and rules which will enable the students access the loans.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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