Increasing students loan laudable but funding needs strengthening

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The Students’ Loan Scheme was established in January 1988 under PNDC Law 276, and has been a vehicle for distressed students in tertiary schools to overcome the numerous financial challenges they encounter while pursuing their studies.

The Scheme is a financial arrangement under which Ghanaian Students enrolled and pursuing approved courses in tertiary institutions in Ghana are granted loans to assist with the financing of their education.

Knowing the importance of the loan scheme to students nationwide, the Akufo-Addo administration, as part of its interventions to improve the country’s education sector, has announced a 50% increase in the amount loaned to students under the scheme.

In the budget statement for 2017, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta gave indication that beginning with 2017/2018 academic year, the loan will be increased to enable students cope with the high cost of living that has been occasioned by inflation and the unstable nature of the currency-the cedi.

While commending government for the bold step to ensure students are not unduly disadvantaged while pursuing their higher studies, we would also impress on managers to explore other funding sources to increase coverage.

The Auditor-general’s report in 2014 revealed a sharp decline in the funding of needy students with disbursements decreasing by 9.6 percent from 2010 to 2011, and a further 28 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Funding sources would have to be expanded since the only source now is GETFund, which is not enough.  Most often, the amount comes in bits and pieces, and is not reliable statutory fund for students to access.

Exploring other funding sources is necessary since the number of students in tertiary institutions is increasing by leaps and bounds.

Although in the 2017 budget statement, GETFund got a 20.7 percent increase in budgetary allocation, the demands of tertiary students keep growing by the day, and therefore, it would be prudent to embrace other funding sources to complement what GETFund makes available.