Higher Education Students’ Loans and Grants Board (HESLGB) has collected over K70 million as repayment for loans from former students.
HESLGB executive director Chris Chisoni in an interview on Thursday said the money is the value of loans without interest as the payment has been done within the one-year grace period government extended to the former students as a motivating factor for them to pay back the money.
The grace period started last April and ended yesterday, after which the students are expected to pay back the loans with interest calculated at the current commercial bank lending rate.
According to Chisoni, former students who benefited from higher education loan schemes were unable to pay back the loans mostly because there was no proper structure through which the funds could be channelled back to government.
Said Chisoni: “Another challenge was the mentality of former beneficiaries who didn’t want to pay back the loans.”
The Act that led to the establishment of the board was passed by Parliament in March 2015 and in April 2016 government announced that it had given a one-year grace period for the former loan beneficiaries to repay the money.
Added Chisoni: “This was until March 31, after which we shall start charging interest at the commercial basic lending rate. The total loan is in excess of K3.8 billion, which means there is a lot of money that is required to be paid back.”
Civil Society Education Coalition (Cisec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe has commended the loans board for the job it has done so far, but said there is more that can be done to collect the loan funds.
He said the board needs to strengthen the loans system so that it is going to be easy to trace the loan beneficiaries amongst other issues.
“There is need for a robust system that will facilitate accountable selection of beneficiaries, tracing of the graduates as well as improved documentation system. Central to this is the need to harmonise documentation for students between colleges/universities and the loans board,” said Kondowe, adding that there is need for the board to outsource some of the services that would enforce compliance which has already proven to be problematic.