Dodoma — Students pursuing diploma courses in line with national priority areas will soon start receiving educational loans following the scheduled amendments of the Higher Education Students’ Loan Board (HESLB) Act contained in the Written Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) No. 4 Bill of 2016.
The Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Professor Joyce Ndalichako, told members of the Parliamentary Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee here yesterday that the move will allow inclusion of the diploma cadre that had been missing out on the opportunity.
“We have been issuing educational loans to students taking degree courses, but we have realised that there is a big need for diploma cadres hence the government’s intention to broaden the spectrum to include them in educational loans,” she explained.
Prof Ndalichako underscored the importance of the diploma cadre, especially those pursuing national priority courses, in pushing forward the Fifth Phase Government’s industrialisation agenda just as is the case with degree holders.
“As a nation, when we talk about industrial economy, all the players, including the middle cadre are as important in taking this agenda in the same way as degree holders would,” she added.
In 2004, there were amendments in the same Act that saw diploma students taking science, mathematics and primary education (with a focus on science and mathematics) receiving educational loans, which started sometimes in 2014.
However, the move was halted mid-last year for the 2016/17 academic year.
The HESLB was quoted saying that the decisionto halt the issuing of the loans to diploma students was in line with the board’s plans to implement government’s directives.
Yesterday, Prof Ndalichako explained that the government move halt the previous decision was in order to amend the Act to broaden the spectrum instead of only focusing on one area of science education.
“In 2004 we included diploma courses in science education we now want to have a provision that broadens the spectrum and include other diploma courses in line with national priority areas instead of coming back here every year,” she explained.
A member of the Parliamentary Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee, Mr Ally Saleh (Malindi-CUF) expressed his concern with the phrasing of ‘national priority area’, cautioning that this might be problematic in future.
“We recently had a huge issue with which students should receive educational loans … now we are hearing issues of industrial economy and what not … you should find a way to determine the national priority areas and now the number of beneficiaries so we can plan ahead economically,” he explained.
In response, the HESLB’s Executive Director, Mr Abdul- Razaq Badru, explained that they have taken into consideration requirements across all sectors, noting that the respective minister in collaboration with stakeholders will discuss and identify needs across sectors.