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Girls, Special Needs Students to Benefit from HESFB New Loan Scheme

UGANDA: The Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB) has introduced a new actionable plan to help girls and special needs students to pursue higher education by providing them with government loans. According to the Executive Director of HESFB, Mr. Wanyama, the board has introduced an additional five points to the female students to enable them to qualify for loans. This is because a few girls offer science subjects and later pass them.

Additionally, students with special needs admitted to any course will have access to government loans unlike in the past when the scheme exclusively supported science bases disciplines. Other humanities courses that are supported are Bachelor of Speech and Language Therapy, Bachelor of Special Needs Education, and Bachelor of Education with special needs.

“There is also affirmative action for other programs targeting people with special needs where we take people who have done humanities. We are trying to broaden our scope. When funds allow in the future, we are gradually opening up space to take on more humanities. A person with special disabilities is eligible to do any course he has been admitted for. The board approved this,” Mr. Wanyama said in an interview.

Number of Students Sponsored to Drop from 1,841 to 1,200

However, the number of students the board will be sponsoring in the academic year 2020/2021 had sloped from 1,841 to the planned 1,200 students.

According to Mr. Wanyama, they have asked for an additional 10 billion Uganda shillings (285 million Ksh) to aid in the recruitment of about 3000 students, which money wasn’t available.

“We did not get additional money to increase the number of successful loan applicants. But within the budget that we have, we are able to bring onboard first-year students. In case we get more money, we shall adjust. But because the number of applicants is increasing every year, we intend to increase beneficiaries. That is why we had asked for additional resources so that we can increase the number of applicants we are taking on. But our budget wasn’t increased. Should we get more resources, we shall be able to increase the number. If we do not get a new addition, the number will drop to about 1,200,” Mr. Wanyama added

“We give girls an extra five points. We do not publish our scorecard in the media. People can manipulate it. Naturally, girls are not many doing sciences. Boys double girls who do sciences.”

100 Slots to be given to Northern Region Students

The board is also considering adding 100 slots to students coming from the Northern region. He said that data has revealed that fewer students from the North have been accessing government facilities be it at admission to public universities, or government scholarships on merit.

The problem, according to Mr. Wanyama, emanates from the students results at the Uganda National Examination Board level where few are able to score the minimum entry requirements to institutions of higher learning.

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