The Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, has said that the recent decision to transfer students’ bursary services to the Higher Education Council (HEC) was aimed at improving efficiency.
Minister Munyakazi was, on Thursday, appearing before a parliamentary committee to explain the rationale of the decision to transfer the services that were previously under Rwanda Education Board (REB) to HEC.
According to Munyakazi, the new arrangement will yield better results in terms of disbursing loans to students going for higher education both within and outside the country, and recovering the student loans from beneficiaries.
In 2010, the law establishing REB came into existence when different institutions, including the then Students Financing Agency of Rwanda (SFAR), were combined.
As part of its duties, REB, which is in charge of pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, was given the responsibility to recover loans issued to students for higher education and to manage bursaries.
REB has so far been doing the disbursement and recovery in partnership with Rwanda Development Bank (BRD).
Appearing before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth to discuss the draft law establishing HEC and determining its responsibilities, organisation and functioning, Munyakazi said that, though the process of awarding and recovering bursaries had improved significantly, there was need to transfer the duties to the institution that works directly with higher education.
“The process of awarding loans had so many problems and students had very many complaints with some saying that they never receive their bursaries and those who did, complained about how late the loans came. Since BRD took over, however, there has been a significant difference. REB continues to work on the loans issue alongside its duties to deal with basic education but it’s not easy to manage loans yet there is actually an institution that is in charge of universities,” he said.
MP Edda Mukabagwiza, who sits on the Committee, asked the minister if transferring the responsibilities would not weigh down HEC, but Rwamukwaya said it would instead make it easier for both students and the institutions.
“This is not necessarily going to increase the responsibilities of HEC, instead it will harmonise their duties since it was hectic for students to move from HEC to REB to look for some of the documentation that is required,” he said.
The Director-General of REB, Janvier Gasana, supported the proposal to transfer of responsibilities and said that the duties of loan recovery was consuming the institution’s time and draining its budget and yet it was not connected with its primary or secondary education.
Gasana suggested that the ministry considers turning over the bursary duties completely to HEC.
“Our duty is to do the technical work of the (students) selection based on criteria, budget, and subject priority, among others. The ministry always has the last word when it comes to choosing who gets a scholarship. There is need for the ministry to completely hand over all the power and responsibility of the bursaries to HEC where they can even sign the bursary confirmation for the students who study abroad,” he said.