The Students Financing Agency of Rwanda (SFAR) will from the beginning of next year put into force a new policy on the Government loan scheme for students aimed at streamlining the process of loan application, cost sharing and loan recovery.
According to the Director General of SFAR, Emmanuel Muvunyi, the new policy founded by a 2008 Presidential order, will do away with problems regarding, ‘who deserves what and where’ the government body charged with the task of providing bursaries and loans to Rwandan students intending to pursue university studies in and outside Rwanda has been facing.
The new policy with 3 main functions will include the criteria of loan application which has been revised to eliminate complaints which have been arising especially regarding how bursary and loan beneficiaries are determined.
SFAR since its establishment has been marred by complaints from the public that financially needy and bright students have been denied scholarships which they duly deserve after failing to convince the agency.
According to Muvunyi, the new policy has been revised and conditions of eligibility have been streamlined especially for Secondary school leavers which the agency will rely on to determine who gets a scholarship.
Students who score distinctions in science and technology subjects will receive bursaries or grants from government which are non-refundable as well as those with ‘grand distinctions’ in humanities.
Those who equally pass but outside the government cut points also receive loans on a cost sharing agreement between the government, meeting 75% (for Science and technology courses) of the loan while the student/parent meet the 25% cost whether in cash or a loan which the government will provide.
Students offering non-science and technology courses are also able to receive loans with the government providing 50% of the loan while the student services the other half.
Muvunyi added that the financially needy students receive government loans after undergoing assessments to determine whether the student is indeed needy, after which the loan is given or withheld depending on the financial background of the applicant.
He dismissed allegations that needy students are denied scholarships saying that in most cases some students fail to prove their cases or don’t academically qualify while others have intentions to conceal their backgrounds hoping to mislead SFAR but get frustrated after they are discovered.
The agency is planning to establish an electronic assessment system in 2009 based on the Kenyan and South African model in order to ease the process and data storage.
Among other things, the agency is set to recover about Rwf 312m of the targeted Rwf 350m in 2008 as part of the initiative to recover money from all individuals in public service who studied on government loans.
The loan recovery scheme launched in 2007 will see all people who received study loans from government payback by deducting 8% every month from their gross salaries.
While addressing the recently concluded Diaspora retreat, Muvunyi said that the scheme has already recorded success with Government Ministers and members of parliament leading the way in repaying the fund which will be recycled to sponsor more students.
The SFAR head also made clarifications on several complaints raised by Diaspora students especially regarding delays in money transfer and study courses abroad.
Students, particularly those studying in China, complained on the courses they are offered on arrival which are not the ones they were told they would undertake while still at home.
Muvunyi however said that such problems stem from the education system which requires students to major in the subjects they pass highly after the first year of general study.
Muvunyi also blamed the delays in money transfer on the lack of communication on the side of the students. He however promised to clear these complaints as soon as possible.