DAR ES SALAAM: THE Higher Education Students’ Loan Board (HESLB) has collected a whopping 1.34tri/- from 2005/06 financial year to September this year from former students with further optimism to recover 758bn/- from others.
Likewise, the government has significantly increased its budget to the board, enabling the entity to run its activities with ease.
Speaking of the positive development in Dar es Salaam yesterday during the series of meetings organised by the Treasury Registrar (TR)’s office with editors, HESLB Director General, Mr Abdul-Razaq Badru said the amount collected is part of 2.1tri/- outstanding loans it projected to recover, representing 64 per cent of the total collection.
Mr Badru noted that the reforms carried out in the board’s operations systems and management are attributed to the remarkable achievement, adding that their capability to manage an additional number of students is unquestionable.
Elaborating, he said the money was collected from 235,498 beneficiaries out of 754,000 students who benefited from the loans since 1994/95.
Mr Badru thanked the employers and beneficiaries who refunded the loans and some beneficiaries who paid their balance in lumpsum after the removal of the value retention fee and the penalties.
“When employers and beneficiaries refund the money, they facilitate new students who join higher learning institutions to access loans, enabling the nation to produce more experts for the development of our country,” Mr Badru said.
In the past four years, the government has managed to increase the budget for HESLB by 69 per cent from 464bn/- in 2020/21 to 786bn/- in 2023/24.
Mr Badru said, this academic year, the government has allocated 731bn/- for the loans, meant to benefit 220,376 students including 75,000 first-year beneficiaries, while more than 145,376 are continuing students.
He also said that the sum of 6.7bn/- in Samia Scholarship will benefit a total of 1,276 students including 640 new students.
According to Mr Badru, Samia scholarship recognises the importance of professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine for the development of the country. According to Mr Badru, the scholarship programme has entered the second season after 636 students from such fields benefited last year.
Mr Badru explained that a total of 48bn/- has been allocated for students pursuing diploma courses whereby a total of 8,000 beneficiaries in priority fields such as health and allied sciences, education, transport and logistics, engineering and energy (energy engineering); mining and earth science and agriculture and livestock will receive funding.
Similarly, he said that in 2021, HESLB succeeded in establishing digital systems in 4G semi-automation, including No-paper Policy and 100 per cent loan applications for online Student’s Individual Permanent Accounts (SIPA), adding that currently, the system operates under 5G full automation.
“SIPA is a platform for students to check the status of the information about loan applications including information on the loans allocated to them,” he said.
Additionally, the board has also come up with ICT strategies to facilitate collection and repayment of loans including digital payment system through Digital Disbursement Solution (DiDiS), Employers Portal (EPO) and Loanees Individual Permanent Account (LIPA).
“Our systems are connected to Government Enterprise Service Bus (GovESB) and Government Agency (eGA). We encourage the integration of systems to increase efficiency,” he added.
However, the HESLB boss said that the board faces various challenges in debt collection, including failure by beneficiaries in private and informal sector to repay their loans.
On the other hand, he called on employers and beneficiaries to support HESLB efforts by repaying the loans.
Mr Badru said that the board appreciates the cooperation of stakeholders including editors, employers and students, adding that HESLB is ready to further forge cooperation.