Opposition party Chadema has challenged the government to remove some of the criteria set by the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) to enable more applicants to access the facility.
The challenge was made in the city yesterday by the shadow minister for Education, Science and Technology, Ms Susan Lyimo, adding that the set criteria should be reviewed to make the selection fair for all citizens to get education.
She cited the Article 13 (2) of the Constitution of Tanzania which states: “No law enacted by any authority in the United Republic shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect”.
The Special Seats MP insisted that Section 4 of the Constitution also provides that “No person shall be discriminated against by any person or any authority acting under any law or in the discharge of the functions or business of any state office”.
According to her, the criteria to be removed include the seventh, which requires the applicants to have completed Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education (ACSEE), or equivalent qualifications not earlier than 2015/16, and the eighth which limits applicants to be no older than 30 years.
She also named criteria number nine and ten which prohibit applicants whose parents are directors and senior managers in public or private companies recognised by the Revenue and Registration authorities from applying.
Responding to the concerns, HESLB executive director Abdul-Razaq Badru said the criteria were set to enable beneficiaries repay their loans on time.
According to him, even the Education Policy states that no student shall be allowed to join secondary education after the age 25, so the two instructions go together.
Speaking about applicants whose parents are directors and senior managers in various institutions, Mr Badru said the aim was to serve students from poor families first.
“Various stakeholders were involved in the preparation of these criteria. In this year, we are aiming to issue loans to 30,000 students,” he said.
Ms Lyimo also extended her call to the government to amend the Education Policy saying that it has failed to prepare competent experts to serve in various sectors.
She pointed out other challenges facing the education sector in the country as including the use of poorly authored textbooks in public schools, insisting that the material must be removed from the learning system.
In her views, there was a need to form a special commission that would be supervising the sector and immediately act on challenges that would rise.
“If we need to have better education, then it is a must for the whole system to be changed. We need to have quality books, a reflective philosophy and supportive infrastructure,” she argued.
The shadow minister also maintained the stand that teenage mothers should be allowed to resume studies after giving birth, as it has been stipulated in the Constitution which guarantees right to education for everyone.