By Nyima Sillah
Students from various institutions have reacted to the introduction of the student loan scheme that was announced by the Ministry of Higher Education Research and Technology
However, a loan scheme that is set to be implemented by the central government next year has raised concern among students.
In an interview with Lagamy Gumaneh, the President of the University of The Gambia Students’ Union, he appealed for proper coordination to know the advantages and disadvantages of the scheme.
According to him, the scheme will have a good impact if the government makes sure the terms and conditions are not at the peril of the students.
“I want the Government to consider and give the subventions tag. These students supposed they have taken the loan for them to pay back because most of the time, students graduate from universities for months or years without employment. So, there is a need to have a considerable number of years for the payment plan. Unless the government develops a comprehensive and very strategic way of reducing the loans, I foresee a big challenge as far as the loan is concerned,” he stated.
Thus, he said it is a progressive direction considering the economic status of students, and that a good number of students are from a low-income earning family, others are from a family that has multiple kids to cater to, and that having to pay D40, 000k per annum or above sometimes challenging.
“The introduction of the student loan scheme is going to mitigate that because the government or any other institution cannot provide scholarships for everyone in the university.
Muhammed Hydara, also a student at the UTG said the loan scheme would not only give opportunities to students to pursue their first degree at the university but also leverage the academic gap of the country’s youthful population into academics.
He noted that the loan scheme would also allow students in different fields to acquire the resources they needed to further their dream field of studies.
In his view, the government wants to bond students that normally benefit from the state resources and never give back to the nation when traveling for an overseas contract or work.
He added: “I know our national debt is way higher but still developing modules that will enhance high-quality education would be the loan scheme. It is like the state is now investing for future gain in his/her citizens and easing its policy on free scholarship schemes to mitigate the education sector loan on its public institutions like UTG, NAWEC, and others.”
On the Contrary, Mariama Ceesay, a student from MDI outlined that more sensitization needs to be done because the students don’t know or have any idea about the loan scheme. “We expect to have fully funded scholarships from the government or partial scholarships rather than putting loans on students who don’t have a strong financial background,” she observed.
“Considering the unemployment rate of graduates in the country. How do you expect a student from a low-income family to pay back this loan after his education?” she enquired.
Abou Fatty, a college student also said that students at the college always struggle to pay their fees and some even seek scholarships just to pay their fees, he said that this loan is just going to hurt some of the students.
“Some would like to take, but the fear of not having a job after graduation will stop them from taking the loan. How can the government guarantee all the students that are going to take the loan, that they will secure a job immediately after graduation to pay back the loan? This is not promising”. “I believe what is supposed to be done, is to give 50% payment to all students from all institutions and the other 50%, to be taken care of by the students themselves or their family members,” he suggested.