TIMELY disbursement of higher learning students' loans and increased number of beneficiaries is one of the remarkable achievements of the fifth-phase government which has brought serenity and minimised waves of class boycotts.
In the past, most university students were involved in demonstrations to pressurize the Higher Education Students Loans Board (HESLB) to provide them with their monies for accommodation and meals but the situation has been different under President John Magufuli administration.
During his election campaign in 2015, Dr Magufuli pledged to increase the budget for vocational training and higher learning education to 25 per cent of the entire budget for the education sector.
He said that students' loans could be one of his key priorities by ensuring timely disbursement of loans and making students' protests over delayed loans history in the country.
The government has been increasing the budget for higher learning students' loans from 348.7bn/- in 2014/2015 to 450bn/- in 2019/2020.
The government has also set aside 490bn/- for students' loans for the 2020/2021 fiscal year. The increase in budget means more students will have access to loans.
Dissolving the 11th Parliament recently, Dr Magufuli said that the number of students being enrolled to various universities in the county has increased in the past five years from 65,064 in 2015 to 87,813 in 2020.
"The fifth phase government has done a lot in the education sector as we can now witness the number of improvements such as increased number of loan beneficiaries from 98,300 in 2014/2015 to 130,883 in 2019/2020," Dr Magufuli said.
Apart from ensuring that all qualified beneficiaries were getting loans, Dr Magufuli also instructed the Higher Education Students Loans Board (HESLB) to set out a plan that could help to recover loans from previous beneficiaries so that more students could have access to loans.
According to HESLB statistics a total of 574bn/-, has been collected in the past four years, almost 90 per cent of the total 641bn/- recovered since HESLB establishment in 2005.
University of Dodoma Second Year student pursuing Bachelor of Science in Chemistry Mr Alex Ngasa said that loan disbursement has been improved a lot in the past two years.
He said that previously, it was taking up to two weeks for students to get their money for meals and accommodation but to date they receive the payments once they sign.
"The university has abandoned manual payments... we are now being paid biometrically thus you get your money once you have signed ," he said.
Mr Ngasa said the biometric payments have minimized unnecessary delays and enabled students to focus on their studies.
Another student Erasmus Eustadius First Year Student at UDOM said that he has not experienced any inconveniences in loan payments.
He said that his colleagues in upper levels were used to waiting up to two weeks to get paid for meals and accommodation, the situation which disrupted their studies but to date the payment is being done smoothly.
A Third Year student at the University of Dar es Salaam Mr Erick Emannuel said that the fifth phase government had done a lot in timely disbursement of loans thus ending student protests which were common in most universities in the country.
"Since I joined the university I had never seen students boycotting classes due to delays in getting their monies ... this is a good sign that everything has been put in order," he said.
For the past four and half years, the country has also seen an increase in the number of first year students being enrolled for higher education learning institutions to 87,813 in 2020 up from 65,064 in 2015.
According to HESLB so far, the board managed to issue 449.99bn/- out of 450bn/- (equals to 99 per cent of the total budget) to all 132,119 beneficiary students.
For the year 2019/20, first year students secured loans amounting to 173.2bn/- and going forward, in 2020/21 the government has increased the budget to 199.8bn/- for 54,000 first year students.