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20.03.2004 General News

New students' loan scheme for fresh students soon

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Accra, March 20, GNA - The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is to begin operating a new students' loan scheme for fresh students in the tertiary institutions, from next academic year.

A proposal for the implementation of the new scheme have been submitted to the leadership of the National Union of Ghana Students, (NUGS), the Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students, (GNUPS), and other stakeholders for consideration and adoption.

Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State responsible for Tertiary Education disclosed this at a meeting with representatives of NUGS, GNUPS, Social Security and National Insurance Trust, (SSNIT) and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) on Friday.

She said continuing students would, however, continue to enjoy facilities under the SSNIT Students' Loan Scheme.

Ms Ohene said the new scheme would relieve SSNIT from the burden of funding the students' loan scheme for a long time.

She stated that the proposed new scheme if accepted by Parliament would be financed from a portion of yearly inflow into the GETFund, which would be operated as a revolving fund for students.

She said interest rate to be levied on the loan "is to be pegged at two per centage points above inflation".

Ms Ohene said the level of loan amounts would be determined and reviewed periodically by an independent consultant and made to reflect national development objectives.

She said in addition, the loan amount would be guided by the cost of courses being pursued by the beneficiaries and the cost of living in the locality where the educational institution is located whilst students would access loans without guarantors.

Ms Ohene said that the various students' bodies requested that the should be given two weeks to study the proposal to enable them make an input to ensure that the new scheme would be acceptable to students and the government.

She appealed to the general public to study the document and come out with suggestions to make the scheme sustainable.

Mr Frank Kwansah, President of GNUPS, said the proposed scheme would give a boost to tertiary education in the country.

He, however, called on the government to pay the 30 per cent rebate of the academic user fees.

Mr Ken Abotsi, President of NUGS, said proposals on the new scheme were laudable and answers questions, which had been lingering in the minds of students.

He suggested that a vigorous mechanism should be adopted to retrieve SSINT loans from beneficiaries to ensure sustainability of the scheme.

Mr Abotsi called for a public debate on the proposal so that the new scheme would be able to stand the test of time if it become operational.

An 11-member board made up of officials from the various stakeholders of education would be set up to administer the new loan scheme.

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