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Student loan scheme draws mixed reactions

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By  PATIENCE AHIMBISIBWE

Posted  Monday, April 28   2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Prof Ssentamu Ddumba, the Vice Chancellor Makerere University, in an interview, said the scheme should have targeted poor families only.

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Kampala- The students’ loan scheme, which was launched last week, has been received with mixed reactions.

While the government touts it as a vehicle to increase access to higher education, critics say it will widen the gap between the haves and have nots.
Prof Ssentamu Ddumba, the Vice Chancellor Makerere University, in an interview, said the scheme should have targeted poor families only.

“It is a good scheme. The only problem they are targeting science students and yet majority of poor people are from humanities. It will still benefit children from privileged families who attend well equipped schools,” Prof Ddumba said.

This was also re-echoed by proprietors from licensed private universities.
Ms Peace Tindyembwa, of private universities licensed but not chartered universities, said: “We feel cheated that we are left out yet National Council for Higher Education has given us license to operate and most of our students are needy.”

Deliberate move
But Ms Nassali Lukwago, the Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary, defended government’s action saying their deliberate move to support sciences is intended to produce graduates who are job creators and not job seekers.

At the launch, the State Minister for Higher Education, Dr John Chrysostom Muyingo, urged applicants to exercise utmost good faith and pay-back without any prodding.
“Don’t lie about your bio data. Don’t join the wanted list. Study, pass and get jobs and re-pay. It will be unfortunate for government agencies to run around for beneficiaries,” Dr Muyingo said.

However, Mr Alfred Karemera, the assistant chief administrative officer of Kisoro District, said the scheme might be abused by those in office and close to ministry officials.

pahimbisibwe@ug.nationmedia.com