While some proven needy students have been left out and are appealing for assistance, it has emerged that a daughter of one Chancellor College (Chanco) lecturer is among the 4 474 students whose applications have been approved.
Tadala Chibwana, daughter to Khama Chibwana, a lecturer in Human Ecology Department at Chanco, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), is appearing on a list of beneficiaries in the students loan programme meant for needy students.
The revelation comes months after civil society organisations (CSOs) expressed concerns over the new system of identifying and qualifying students to benefit from the loan programme.
According to the list, Tadala is appearing on number nine as a mature entry student in the law programme. She applied for K325 000 (about $465) covering upkeep and stationery allowances.
In an interview yesterday, Higher Education Students’ Loans and Grants Board executive director Chris Chisoni said he was aware of some anomalies in the process and that the board was working to ensure that students from well-off families are dropped from the beneficiary lists.
He said: “Right now, no loans have been disbursed. We are still doing physical verification exercise. I also just got reports from African Bible College [ABC], Catholic University, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources [Luanar] and Chancellor College.
“Besides the reports, we will do our own verifications and so far a lot of well-to-do students who sneaked into the lists have been removed and if we verify the name, the lecturer’s daughter will also be removed. This is a new system and the public should understand us.
“We will strive to do the best that is required and only qualify those who really need the funds.”
In the case of the lecturer’s daughter, Chisoni said she should already be on government scholarship paying K55 000 tuition fee per year until the end of her studies and that as a lecturer, her father can apply as part of his benefits for the education grant scheme operated by the university.
But Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe said the loans board needs to explain why such students are found on the list in the first place.
He said this could be a tip of an iceberg.
Said Kondowe: “I do not believe this is just an isolated case. The loans board needs to be vigilant and administer appropriate criterion and these must be followed to avoid students from well-to-do families from benefiting. In the end, it will be the taxpayer who will be coughing up extra to support people who can ably pay.”
Government announced the abolishment of students loans, arguing that no deserving students were benefiting. It introduced the new loan facility, especially meant for the needy student.
In an earlier interview, Chisoni said 10 198 students applied for the loans and that the board would pay about K1.2 billion to needy students in the 2015/16 financial year. n