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EDITORIAL: HESLB, RITA PLAN LAUDABLE BUT TRANSPARENCY NEEDED

Wednesday June 09 2021

Funding of higher education in Tanzania continues to pose challenges to the government and the public at large, as it is quite expensive.

It was against this background that the government established the Higher Education Students Loans Board (HESLB) under Act No. 9 of 2004 (as amended in 2007, 2014 and 2016) with the objective of assisting needy and eligible Tanzania students to access loans and grants for their higher education.

Despite the establishment of HESLB, there were still a number of challenges in relation to verifying eligible students before they are provided with loans.

Early this week, however, HESLB and the Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (Rita) signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at ending the challenges associated with verifying birth and death certificates during the loan application process.

Prior to the agreement, applications faced delays as hard copies of key documents had to be sent back and forth between Rita and HESLB. It was also not that difficult to forge certificates due lack of cooperation among the relevant authorities.

The new electronic system will simplify coordination, and hence save time while keeping all the parties informed about every stage of the process so that whenever there are issues or missing information, the relevant party could act promptly.

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Despite this improvement regarding simplification of the loan application process, it is crucial that HESLB and Rita system is sufficiently transparent for beneficiaries to see that they have been treated justly.

It is disappointing when loan applicants get negative responses to their applications despite submitting documents that are in order. Transparency of the entire process should help clear any doubt.

This should pave the way for all deserving loan applicants to access the facility without being turned down provided they will in the end pay back what they owe the loans board.



EMPOWER RURAL WOMEN

Despite rural women being a major part of the agricultural labour force performing most of the unpaid care work in rural areas, they continue to be held back in fulfilling their potential. Investing in rural women is important in a nation’s development.

Given the chance and equal access to productive resources, women can help wipe out hunger from the face of the world. Discriminatory laws and practices affect not just women but entire communities and nations.

Countries where women lack land ownership rights or access to credit have more malnourished children. It is strange that even in those countries with the best records there is under-representation of women in political and business decision-making.

Training girls and women in rural areas is another requirement for empowering them. They need to be given vocational education in agriculture. There is a good reason for this. The energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most valuable untapped natural resource.

Giving women inexpensive loans, teaching them scientific ways of farming and preserving food products and creating a market where they can sell their products without the intervention of middlemen can improve the living standards of rural women.