Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) on Wednesday, 03 May 2023 demanded for answers from the Higher Education Student Financing Board (HESFB) about the selection criteria used for the vulnerable students and those from poor districts.
Officials from the Higher Education Students Financing Board-HESFBUG led by the Executive Director, Michael Wanyama, were appearing before COSASE
From the information provided to the Committee, the MPs found that the lion’s share of the student loans go to districts that are not poor like Mbarara, Bushenyi, Ntungamo, Kasese, Mukono, Wakiso, Rukungiri, Mitooma, Sheema etc.
Nwoya District Woman MP, Hon. Judith Peace Achan said she had seen people with names from the Western region of Uganda appearing on the list of beneficiaries for student loans in her home district of Nwoya situated in the Northern region.
The MPs unanimously demanded that HESFB should conduct follow ups on the beneficiaries of its programmes to avert situations where people are struck off lists and replaced.
The Executive Director of Higher Education Student Financing Board (HESFB), Michael Wanyama reported inconsistencies in applicants for government student loans across the country.
He said that the Board, whose primary role is to offer student loans for high education has over the years, seen some districts register overwhelming variations in applicants with the urban areas and certain regions dominating the list of beneficiaries.
Wanyama singled out districts like Kalangala that had only one applicant who the board would have to award a student loan even when they did not meet the criteria.
He added that some districts, especially in the urban areas would have over 1000 applicants with more than 20 meeting the criteria but HESFB having to grant loans to only the best five
He noted that they have had to work with the meagre resources to create more awareness of the programmes but would do better if their budget constraints were addressed.
Wanyama stated that the scored card for a successful applicant is followed strictly but is sometimes reconsidered or adjusted according to the prevailing circumstances .
Wanyama said this following concerns from Members of Parliament on the unequal numbers of registered beneficiaries of loans across the districts.
The Vice Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Lucy Akello, questioned the leadership at HESFB on the interventions it had in place to make the process of accessing student loans fair.
Akello added that there were scenarios where students were struck off the lists even after being successful.
She said that, in other cases, people from different regions were appearing on lists .
“One of my district leaders had to come to Kampala to intervene in a case where a student had been struck off the list of student loan beneficiaries; such things need to be prevented,” she said.
Credit: Parliament of Uganda