Govt seeks to transform higher education financing scheme

MINISTER for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Adolf Mkenda said the government eyes transforming the higher education financing scheme to be resilient and robust to meet the nation’s economic aspirations.

In his opening speech at the first Higher Education Student’s Financing symposium read by the ministry’s Deputy Permanent Secretary Dr Franklin Rwezimula, he called for a student financing agenda.

“It is my strong hope that the discussions and reflections on the assessments and the symposium in general will provide invaluable inputs to our journey of transforming our higher education financing scheme,” said the minister.

Adding “It is our responsibility to reflect and interrogate whether we are on the right path as far as higher education financing is concerned in the focus areas of prioritisation of programmes, resource mobilisation and social-economic impacts.”

He called upon the participants to discuss openly for the purpose of addressing the gaps in higher education financing.

The symposium has attracted participants in the higher education financing ecosystem, including Vice-Chancellors, Rectors, Principals, employers, financial institutions and regulators, among others.

He said since 1994/1995 to date, the government has issued higher education loans totalling 5.37tri/- to about 654,919 beneficiaries.

“This is a huge investment that any government can be proud of and, of course, we are very proud and committed to develop our own human capital.

“Let us reflect and interrogate whether we are investing in the right skills for our socio-economic development, can we have alternative and reliable sources of financing students apart from the government and is the current higher education financing sustainable?” he queried.

He also applauded the World Bank for supporting the education sector through the Higher Education Economic Transformation (HEET) project, terming it a reliable source of financing higher education in the country.

HEET is a five-year 425 million US dollars’ project through World Bank support to promote higher education as a catalytic force in the new Tanzanian economy.

He said with the increasing number of students enrolling in higher education institutions among the benefits of the free fee education policy, it is time to have a clear roadmap on the future of higher education financing.

HESLB organised the first ever high level symposium on higher education students’ financing under the World Bank’s Higher Education for Economic Transformation (HEET) Project under the theme of “rethinking the best source of the financing”.

HESLB Chairperson, Prof Hamisi Dihenga said that in the 18 years of existence, there has been increasing numbers of benefitting students and their corresponding budget with the government being the main sponsor.

Adding “In our quest to make a comprehensive review of the Higher Education Financing in Tanzania through the HEET project, we commissioned three experts in areas of economic and resource mobilisation to make assessments in three areas.”

He mentioned the areas as the impact of fee-free education policy on future higher education financing, high demand and national priority programmes to inform higher education financing and higher education financing landscape including supplementary financing from pension funds/ loanable advisory services.

The symposium serves as a consultative session for identifying and discussing lessons, exploring opportunities and promoting collaborations in the students’ financing ecosystem.

They aimed at setting the stage for reflection and discussion on the students’ financing agenda, share experiences that would inform decision making on the future of higher education financing and receive feedback from key players in the education financing spectrum.

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