Mechanisms have been put in place to ensure the monthly stipend given to needy students at higher institutions of learning is disbursed on time to avoid any inconveniences, the Minister for Education has said.
Dr Papias Malimba Musafiri made the statement on Friday at University of Rwanda, Huye Campus, as he officiated at the closing ceremony of the induction week for freshmen.
The decision follows students’ complaints about the delays in disbursing of living allowances, with some saying the delays forced them to live on one meal per day and struggled to get academic materials they need.
The Rwf25,000 monthly stipend could delay for three to five months, students said.
Students have also expressed concerns over the new change in scholarship scheme, whereby the living allowances will be channeled to beneficiary accounts and the student will be paying directly for all the necessities.
This is different from the previous arrangement where the student could get meals from campus-based restaurant or accommodation in campus hostels and the payment would be deducted from the living allowances once disbursed.
This helped the needy students who depend on the allowances to meet their basic needs.
“We are being asked to pay for the accommodation and meals by ourselves. This could affect us in case of delays as has been the case. Under the old arrangement, we were at least assured of a meal and accommodation,” said Valentine Mukarushema, a first year student of Economics at Huye Campus.
Change of system
Students had suggested that the allowances be delivered on time or that some expenses like accommodation or meals be deducted from the allowances to facilitate the student’s learning in case they cannot get the money.
Musafiri assured the students that those entitled to the stipend will henceforth get it on time and there should not be any cause for concern.
He said effective this year, the allowance will be disbursed in two or three installments, unlike in the previous system where the money was disbursed on monthly basis.
“I would like to assure you that the money will be disbursed soon; there will not be delay like that which we have seen in the last years,” Musafiri said.
He said last week, a law allowing the Ministry of Education to put the bursary funds in the bank and the bank directly transfers the money to the students’ accounts was promulgated in the Official Gazette.
In defence of new system
Musafiri defended the decision to let students take care of all their subsistence needs, saying this was also good for their personal development as they will use it to nurture the culture of saving and taking care of themselves.
The minister urged those who are yet to open bank accounts to open them, noting that there are banking services in the campus.
The tuition and living allowances scheme for university students, which has been run by the Ministry of Education, were transferred to the Rwanda Development Bank effective the start of Academic Year 2015 this month.