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122.8bn/- loans given to students

AS students in higher learning institutions resume classes on Monday, the Higher Education Students' Loans Board (HESLB) has announced disbursement of 122.8bn/- for loan beneficiaries.

HESLB Executive Director Abdul- Razaq Badru told reporters at the University of Dodoma (UDOM) that the money is in the bank accounts of 70 higher learning institutions.

He said 63.7bn/- is for meals and accommodation, while 59.1bn/- covers tuition fees for 132,119 students for the third quarter of the 2019/2020 academic year.

During a round trip to assess how prepared the institutions were to receive students who started reporting at their respective campuses since on Friday, Mr Badru said they had stationed an officer in every institution to address any challenges that might arise.

He used the occasion to urge the universities to ensure that they have a modal that would ensure the smooth signing of the students’ contract sheets for timely remittance of the funds.

The initiative follows a directive for the reopening of higher education institutions issued by President John Magufuli, that, among other things, by J une 1, all students who are eligible for loans should have received their money.

The government closed schools and colleges on March 16, 2020 as part of the efforts to combat the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.

According to HESLB, under the existing system, food and accommodation fees are paid to the beneficiaries four times throughout the academic year, (every 60 days of the course that the student is required to attend).

"By the time the universities were closed, students had been paid the first quarter disbursements in November, 2019 and the second quarter was issued in January, 2020," Mr Badru said.

HESLB also injected 59.1bn/- fees payments directly into the institutions’ bank accounts which had submitted their invoices, whereby as of yesterday, 62 colleges had received their allocations out of the 70.

"The purpose of these payments is to enable educational institutions to cover operational costs and to provide targeted education to students," Mr Badru said.

During the 2019/20 academic year, the government gave 450bn/- of higher education loans to 132,119 beneficiaries studying at various institutions.

On his part, the UDOM Vice Chancellor, Prof Faustine Bee, said they were ready to host the students again as all prevention measures had been adhered too.

He said students must wear face masks and sanitisers to be used at times of water challenges. Prof Bee called upon students to fill the loan contract sheets on time to avoid uncalled for complaints as HESLB had already injected the money for their beneficiaries.

"Classes start on Monday and students have started arriving and by Monday when one is not done with registration, should attend classes and in free time complete the process," said Prof Bee.

The Chairman of the Tanzania Higher Learning Students' Organisation (TAHLISO), Mr Peter Niboye, wanted the HELSB fund to serve the intended purpose, calling upon universities to stop diverting it to other uses and subjecting students to suffering.

He advised his colleagues to adhere to recent guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health as they resume classes.

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Author: NELLY MTEMA in Dodoma

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