Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Higher Education Students Financing Board plans to support Ugandan undergraduate students doing humanities.
Initially, the scheme was targeting students pursuing degree and undergraduate diploma courses in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs.
According to the government, this was also to help in bridging the human resource gap in critical sectors of the economy that are science-driven.
The board has for the first time awarded study loans to 120 continuing students in their final year of study to help them complete their studies using the 500 million Uganda shillings boost to the fund.
The 2016 Africa Higher Education student survey report reveals that almost 30% of all students who enroll in university education on different degree programs in different universities dropped out of their programs with the majority having financial challenges.
Michael Wanyama, the board executive director explains that due to the high demand from the continuing students with financial constraints, they presented a budget of 4.5 billion shillings to cater for 1,000 continuing students.
Wanyama says that the board is also considering supporting students doing humanities, however, noting that not all students will qualify for the student loan scheme.
He further explains that the board is analyzing several issues regarding the flexibility of the loan scheme and accommodating more students due to the increasing demand.
Available statistics indicate that already the board is supporting students with disabilities in both science and humanity courses in the different higher institutions of learning.
The State Minister for Primary Education Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu noted that the government initially had wanted to increase the human resource in critical sectors of the economy and this was mainly in the fields of science and technology, engineering, and mathematics except for the persons with disabilities who are able to study any program of their own choice under affirmative action.
Kaducu says the government recognizes the increasing demand for the study loans which is evidenced by the applications to the board starting with the requests presented by the board to the parliament.
She, however, highlighted the need for the beneficiaries to repay the loans to enable the others to benefit from the same resource envelope.
Meanwhile, Wanyama says that 40 percent of the students who benefited from the scheme are currently repaying their loans.
The government will in this financial year spend 6 billion shillings on the scheme to benefit a total of 1,530 applicants including 381 undergraduate diploma applicants from 22 participating institutions of higher learning both public and government.
The loan is paid directly to the institution account covering tuition, functional and research fee, and then the aid and appliance fees for the students with learning disabilities.