Dar es Salaam. The Higher Education Students Loans Board (Heslb) has explained factors behind differences in percentage of loans disbursed to beneficiaries. This comes as a concern was raised in Parliament by Moshi Urban lawmaker Priscus Tarimo (CCM).
The MP sought to know why loan applicants who did their schooling in private schools were denied loans or given less compared to their counterparts who went to public schools.
He said there was a misconception that students who went to private schools were hailing from well-to-do families, while in reality most were from ordinary households.
“Why shouldn’t the government just put in place a fair system that will examine pass marks and afford them loans?” asked Mr Tarimo.
Explaining, Education deputy minister Omay Kipanga said issuance of the loans was governed by laws.
“There are many students who went to private schools benefiting from these loans,” he said. The debate in Parliament sparked discussions on the matter on social media.
A student of St Augustine University of Tanzania (Saut), who asked not to be named, wondered why he was receiving a smaller percentage in terms of the loan compared to colleagues in the same academic year and programme.
“I’m from an ordinary family. I duly filled the forms, yet I receive a smaller percentage while my colleagues, with who we filled the forms together, get 80 to 100 percent,” he lamented.
A University of Dodoma student, who asked not to be named, said he scored higher in the Form Six national exams than some colleagues who are receiving 100 percent loan while he was only receiving 30 percent.
“I fail to understand the formula used by the Board,” he commented.
One Elieth Mmassy, a University of Dar es Salaam student, said: “There are those who are surprised with a small percentage, but actually, they didn’t fill the forms on their own.”
She advised loan applicants to undertake the task on their own.
Clarifying to The Citizen yesterday, the loans board said among other things that disbursement methods varied from one university to another and the neediness of a beneficiary.
Mr Omega Ngole, Heslb’s director of corporate communications said, student loan issuance was based on evidence tabled by the loan applicant to show level of support he or she needed.
He said Heslb defined a needy loan applicant as one who is poor, orphan, poor disabled student, having poor parents with disability of under special economic support programmes.
He said an orphan must show proof that one or both parents were dead. The death certificate must be certified.
Mr Ngole said a poor and disabled student has to be certified by the district medical officer, regional medical officer, or any authorized agent to certify such cases. “One who had sponsors in his or her lower education, must have them fill in a standard form. This must be authenticated appropriately.
“Every Tanzanian student from a poor community or family is entitled to a higher education loan, this is why Heslb was established,” said Mr Ngole.
He said the size of loan was pegged on costs of the university programme he/she is admitted to which is arrived at by the Means Testing system, which determines the applicant’s neediness for financial assistance.
“Neediness is thus measured as a difference between total annual costs to pursue individual programmes at respective institutions and established applicant’s past ability to pay for secondary school education or tertiary education as an indication of the applicants’ ability to contribute to the costs of higher education,” he explained.
“This is why students can be in one class and study the same programme but they all have different loan percentages,” he added.