I wish to respond to the article, “Bank to take over varsity student bursary scheme”, in The New Times issue of October 9.
I sincerely think that Rwanda Education Board (REB) should conduct a comprehensive study on this issue before making a decision to entrust students loans to a bank. For instance, we need to know how students from poor families will access the loans when they have no guarantee to present to the bank.
In my view it looks as though students from poor families will not qualify for these loans.
I would also like to appeal to the Government of Rwanda to consider the possibility of adopting the current bursary system in Kenya, as part of broader efforts to harmonise education policies in the partner states of the East African Community (EAC).
There, they have set up an institution called Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) which deals with the disbursement of student loans and the recovery of these loans, and different categories of students qualify for this facility.
I entirely agree with the advice from John. I have always wondered why REB doesn’t borrow a leaf from Kenya’s HELB. We should always look at what is happening around us with a view to adopting best practices where possible, and Kenya’s bursary scheme could be one of those things.
HELB is doing well, and has apparently served more people than our SFAR (now under REB). They are able to extend loans to students by channeling them directly to their accounts, with minimal challenges, and students are happy to pay back after school.
A study visit to Kenya could be helpful. I was reading in the same issue of The New Times about Kenya’s delegation of 30 legislators who were on a study tour to Rwanda to understand the One Laptop per Child concept.
REB should consider undertaking a similar mission to Kenya to specifically understand how HELB goes about the bursary scheme.
Richard, Nairobi, Kenya