The management of government loans and bursaries for university students could soon be coordinated by the Higher Education Council (HEC) after MPs yesterday approved the plan.
The legislators in the Lower House agreed to assess the Government’s proposed amendments to the laws governing HEC and the Rwanda Education Board (REB) in order to place the management of students’ bursaries and loans under the former.
The mandate is currently under REB, which assumed the responsibility following a 2010 merger of former Student Financing Agency of Rwanda (SFAR) and other institutions to form Rwanda Education Board.
But now the Government has realised that loans and bursaries for university students should be managed by an institution that is in charge of higher education.
An explanatory note submitted by the Government to Parliament indicates that the 2010 merger assigned REB with the mission to provide and recover loans and the management of bursaries in higher education, when actually REB does not have higher education in its attributions.
REB is normally in charge of regulating nursery, primary and secondary education, while HEC regulates universities and other institutions of higher learning.
“It is understandable that the mission to provide and recover loans and the management of bursaries in higher education should be removed from REB and be attributed to HEC,” officials said in the explanatory notes.
The draft laws were designed by a team made up of representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, REB, HEC and Workforce Development Authority, with inputs from the Rwanda Law Reform Commission.
The Minister for Education, Dr Papias Malimba Musafiri, presented the Bills in Parliament yesterday.
After approving the plan to make the changes, the MPs will proceed with reviewing the draft laws at the parliamentary committee level.
“The laws will help the two bodies to work better and in a complementary way to promote the quality of education,” Musafiri said.
Meanwhile, legislators yesterday pushed the Government to increase funding for students on scholarships, arguing that the current high prices on the market have made some of the living allowances given to the students meaningless.
A case in point is where some students are handed Rwf25,000 for living allowance, the same amount of money that was given to university students on government support a decade ago.
“The money should be increased to help university students get better quality of living,” said MP Nura Nikuze.
MP Theobald Mporanyi agreed, suggesting that placing the management of students’ loans and bursaries under HEC should also be an opportunity to improve services offered to students.
“Now that HEC will be in charge, a thorough analysis of how bursaries and loans are delivered needs to be carried out in order to improve services,” he said.
Minister Musafiri promised that services to the students will be improved by ensuring better coordination among different institutions in the education sector and better provision of information about available opportunities for students despite limited government resources.