The Student Loan Scheme recently signed by President Bola Tinubu has been described as unworkable.
Sights & Sounds
Stakeholders in the education sector agreed on this at a forum organized by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) in Lagos.
The Student Loan Bill, according to the president would enable Nigerian students to access loans at interest-free rates.
Stakeholders like parents, students, lecturers, education rights activists and others brainstormed on the loan scheme. The topic was: “Will student loans increase access to public higher education in Nigeria?
Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director at CAPPA.
Zikora Ibeh, Policy and Research Officer at CAPPA.
According to CAPPA, the income cap of less than N500, 000 per annum, neglects the economic realities in Nigeria. It says that provision means the exclusion of the least paid employee in the public service who earns N30,000 as the minimum wage.
Also, the loan scheme, as reflected in Section 13, only caters for tuition fees. Stakeholders said this provision, suggests a plan to introduce tuition fees in universities and other tertiary institutions, which would raise the cost of education for other students who do not qualify for the student loan.
Gideon Adeyeni is the spokesman of Education Rights Campaign.
The stakeholders also noted that despite the tuition-free policy, students of government-owned higher institutions pay a series of charges and levies generally called school fees.
Professor Adelaja Odukoya, zonal coordinator of ASUU.
CAPPA said if the student loan is meant to cater for tuition fees alone, how does an indigent student find money to cater for the other fee regime?
Other disqualifying factors, the body noted, include the guarantors that an applicant is expected to present.
Achike Chude is the Executive Director of Joint Action Fronts
To qualify for the loan, an applicant is expected to have a public servant of not less than level 12, a lawyer with a post-call experience of 10 years or a justice of the peace as guarantor. CAPPA says economically disadvantageous families are not likely to have people in those classes to stand for them.
The stakeholders agreed that the student loan scheme if allowed to stand, would further marginalize vulnerable groups, particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
They called for the scrapping of the student loan scheme and more funding for education. They also called for accountability and efficient utilization of TETFUND and other intervention programmes of the government.