GOVERNMENT will introduce a loan scheme for students in higher learning institutions before the end of this year to reduce dependence on public financing for operations, Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Michael Kaingu has said.
Dr Kaingu told a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that Government’s new approach to finance higher education is premised on the need to establish a mechanism for learners to pay back the loans upon completion of their studies.
“There has been wide expectation from school- leavers that Government will automatically provide bursaries and living allowances, which has largely caused student protests. But the increase in the demand for higher education will not allow us to sponsor all students and that is the main reason why we want to establish this loan,” Dr Kaingu said.
The minister said Government wants to establish a sustainable way of sponsoring students that will compel them to pay back the money.
He said his ministry is working with all stakeholders in the design and implementation of the new approach toward a sustainable and equitable financing system, which will result in the production of professionals who will contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
“My ministry is determined to ensure the development of the higher education sector in Zambia through the establishment and operation of both public and private higher education institutions,” Dr Kaingu said.
He also dispelled speculations that Government will not sponsor first year students at the Copperbelt University (CBU).
The Zambia National Students Union has welcomed Government’s move to introduce a loan scheme for students.
ZANASU president Humphrey Mwenya, who is also COBUSU president, said the loan scheme has always been there but that Government has not been able to recover the money from students after completion of their studies.
“Government should come up with mechanisms to take back the money so that it can be used to help other students. I also appeal to the bursaries committee to release the names of students who have applied for bursaries on time so that CBU resumes classes on time,” Mr Mwenya said.