HUYE- Students pursuing their studies abroad will not be affected by the recent government decision to scrap monthly allowances given to students in public Universities and other institutions of higher learning as loans, the Education Minister has said.
Addressing students of the National University of Rwanda over the weekend, Dr Charles Murigande, said that government will continue to foot the education costs of students abroad numbering over 700.
“We cannot recall them, so we will continue to support them, the decision will only affect students in local public universities and institutions of higher learning,” said Murigande.
The Minister reiterated that that the decision to scrap the Rwf250, 000 allowances given to students every academic year is intended to save more funds which will be injected in the 9-Year Basic Education (9YBE) programme and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
“We have opted to offer to Rwandans at least the basic education under the assumption that with this level of education, our population will have the capacity to create jobs and even have the capacity to pay for their University education,” he said.
“It is a matter of choice especially when you have limited resources.”
He added that government will continue to fund infrastructural development in universities so as to improve the quality of education and is considering helping needy students who could be hard hit by this new move.
Currently, the Ministry of Education spends 25 percent of budget on 27,000 students in universities and higher institutions of learning while the rest goes to 2.8million students from primary and secondary school levels.
At the National University of Rwanda, 7,300 students of the 11,000 enrolled at the country’s oldest and biggest public institution of higher learning benefit from the government loan scheme run by the Students Financing Agency for Rwanda (SFAR).
The agency sponsors 24,098 students in local universities and 773 abroad.
Dr Murigande told the students to use the Christmas holiday to plan how they will meet their living expenses in the next academic year that opens January 2011.
“The message that you have to take with you is that the allowance is no more, up to now, there is no hint that the decision will be retracted or revised,” he stressed.
The decision has attracted mixed feelings from the student community. While many agree with the proposal to allocate more money in primary and secondary education, they are not ready forfeit their allowances to achieve this end.
“Most students are needy; some could drop out or engage in acts like prostitution to survive,” said Alex Kalimba, a third year pharmacy student.
The meeting was also attended by the Varsity Rector Prof Silas Lwakabamba, the Executive Director of the Higher Education Council Prof Geoffrey Rugege and SFAR Director General, Emma Rubagumya.