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15.09.2004 Education

Ministry of Education works out new student loan scheme

By GNA

Accra, Sept 15, GNA - Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State in-charge of Tertiary Institutions on Wednesday said the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MOEYS) was working on a proposed new student loan trust for tertiary institutions.

Ms Ohene said the new scheme could be accessible to students beginning next academic year after it had passed through parliament and the necessary legislative procedures. She said this when she met students of the Valley View University at Oyibi near Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region. She said the scheme would replace the SSNIT student loan and students would not need guarantors before they have access to it, adding that there was the need for a comprehensive data base to be able to trace beneficiaries of the new loan scheme.

Ms Ohene said the ministry had taken this step because the SSNIT loan scheme was collapsing as most students after completing the school fail to pay back the loans. She said due to the failure of some students to repay the loans some guarantors were being forced to pay for the loans and this put their retirement benefits in jeopardy. She commended the private universities for reducing the pressure on the five public universities, which could not absorb all the SSS students who were waiting to enter the university.

She said it was in this line that the President had directed the ministry to find ways of extending the GETFUND to private tertiary institutions. "The constitution obliges government to extend some funding to private tertiary institutions," adding, "it is not enough to send letters saying we are also Ghanaians, make arguments and lets hear it, you are equally entitled to what government has to offer." She said the ministry had opened its doors to students of the private tertiary institutions as they are to those in public universities and they should not be inhibited.

Ms Ohene said any course in a private tertiary institution that was directed towards faculty development had a clear justification for public funding because it was intellectual property, which would not be confined to the institution. She however said at the moment the state of the basic schools was bad and Government needed funding to build infrastructure and provide other facilities. She said there was no investment in public universities, which needed rejuvenation in the laboratories, libraries and classrooms. Ms Ohene said financing education was such a huge task that the Minister had been thinking of an educational development bank to help the sector. She commended private tertiary institutions for remaining calm even though they were also faced with similar problems as the public institutions.

Dr Brinpong Owusu-Antwi, Acting President of the university said students from the university who go on attachment were sometimes hired to work at the various institutions giving the impression that the performance of the university was up to standard and recognised. The University was the first private university to be given full accreditation by the National Accreditation Board to operate in 1997. It currently has 900 students from 16 countries, 40 faculty staff and part time lecturers. It offers degree programmes in Theology, Religious Studies, Business Administration (accounting option) and Computer Science. It also has ten on-going projects including, three storey lecture hall at a cost of 450,000 US dollars, two guest houses, faculty home, men's dormitory, a bakery, a 200 capacity cafeteria with a conference hall.

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