Varsity loan scheme hijacked - Kagonyera

Students check for their names on the Makerere University government sponsorship intake list at the main campus in Kampala last year. PHOTO BY Joseph Kiggundu.

What you need to know:

Wrong beneficiaries? Prof Kagonyera said government scholarships are benefitting only the rich instead of the poor they are intended for.


Makerere University Chancellor Mondo Kagonyera has said government scholarships to students joining university and other institutions of higher learning, are benefitting only the rich instead of the poor they are intended for.

Although he applauded the students loan scheme the government launched for science students at universities last year, Prof Kagonyera said the beneficiaries are children from rich families, who have attended good primary and secondary schools with facilities which enable them attain the required qualifications for the loans.
Prof Kagonyera was speaking at the graduation ceremony of Makerere Business Institute in Kampala on Friday.

The warning
He warned that many students will not afford to pay back the loans after studies given the country’s high unemployment rate, currently at 64 per cent.

“I will say it again and again. If the government hadn’t paid for me, I would not be what I am today. My father died when I had just completed Primary Seven, my mum did not have anything. It is government that held my hand. The loan scheme is good but has government carefully analysed to find out the abilities of these young men and women to pay back the money with hardly any jobs in our country?” he wondered.

A total of 1,126 students graduated with certificates and diplomas in business and information technology at Makerere Business Institute (MBI). Of these, 62 per cent were female.

The MBI Principal, Mr Nathan Twesigye, appealed to parents to be patient with their children until they get paying jobs. “Parents, do not expect too much too soon from your sons and daughters graduating today. A lot of financial demands on your children may force them to try underhand methods of getting money, notably embezzlement, early marriages and prostitution,” Mr Twesigye counselled.

Way forward

Prof Kagonyera instead proposed that both the student loans and scholarships be channeled to underprivileged children in villages as bursaries. “Government’s subvention should concentrate on people who cannot afford. You can give scholarships to few people and the rest of the money should be given as bursaries to people who cannot afford,” Prof Kagonyera explained.