Review higher education loan scheme to ensure fairness

Editor, This is with reference to the story, “Will new policy shift keep students loan scheme afloat? (The New Times, March 18).
Graduands during a past ceremony. The government intends to revamp the students’ loan scheme.  The New Times / File
Graduands during a past ceremony. The government intends to revamp the students’ loan scheme. The New Times / File

Editor,

This is with reference to the story, “Will new policy shift keep students loan scheme afloat? (The New Times, March 18).

Honestly speaking, the new student loan scheme based on Ubudehe Programme, will obviously have a negative impact on higher education in general; the number of students will drop out while the quality of education will also decline.

The categories under the Ubudehe Programme are as follows: Category One: Umutindi nyakujya, Category Two: Umutindi, Category Three: Umukene, Category Four: Umukene wifashije, Category Five: Umukungu, Category Six: Umukire.

According to the new loan scheme, only students in categories one and two of the Ubudehe Programme should receive a loan to cover 100 percent of their tuition costs and a living allowance.

Students in categories three and four will receive loans to cater for 50 percent of the tuition costs but without a living allowance; this means that they will have to pay Rwf415,000 as tuition plus Rwf250,000 as living allowances, which makes it a total of Rwf 665,000.

Students in categories five and six will have to fully cater for all costs of higher education; this means that they will pay a total of Rwf 830,000 as tuition plus Rwf 250,000 as living allowances, which makes it a total of Rwf 1,080,000.

To understand the seriousness of this issue, let us take the example of a parent who is a primary school teacher and has a son or a daughter in university. He/she is in category four according to the Ubudehe categorisation but he/she gets a monthly salary of Rwf 50,000. Can such a teacher afford to pay Rwf 665,000 per year for his/her child? Certainly not.

How about a rural citizen who earns his/her living from subsistence farming and who is classified in category four or five? Will he/she be able to afford to educate his/her child? I doubt it.

I sincerely think that the Government should reconsider its position on this issue and adopt a loan policy that is fair and equitable. Otherwise, higher education in Rwanda will remain problematic.

What people don’t know is that the adoption of this new loan scheme will allow some students with lower marks to easily access higher education because their parents can afford to pay while others with higher marks may have to abandon their education because their parents cannot afford.

This situation then leads us to ask ourselves the following question: do we really care for quality education?

Peter, Kigali

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