Adopt transparent ways to offer student loans

The Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) has announced that more than 70,000 students will benefit from its loans for the 2022/2023 academic year.

The figure is said to repre­sent a 100-per cent increase over the 32,744 students of 110 tertiary institutions on the loan scheme in the 2021/2022 academic year.

The wide jump is attributed to the ‘No Guarantor’ policy the SLTF has introduced as part of measures to encourage more students to access the loans to support their educa­tion.

If only the student popu­lations of the three premier universities of the country (University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and University of Cape Coast) total over 120, 000, then one can imagine how many stu­dents are in the 110 tertiary institutions being referred to by SLTF.

That is to make the argu­ment that the 70,000 students going to access the SLTF fa­cilities constitute a fraction of the country’s total tertiary institution population.

But that is not really the point; the point is that there must be certain strict criteria to be fol­lowed in order to objec­tively select the beneficia­ries.

Of course, availability of funds and the sizes of amounts are part but what are the rest?

We are asking this ques­tion because we live in a country where certain in­terventions are announced to the public and sweet explanations given, yet some applicants of such facilities are treated with disdain and denied access.

What is more worrying is that the “most quali­fied” are denied access because they have no con­nections in officialdom.

Due to this state of affairs, some Ghanaians do not have the appetite for applying for any such thing because at the end of the day, applicants lose the money used in apply­ing for the facilities and their time too wasted in the process.

Therefore, we would be grateful if the SLTF would make public the criterion or criteria it is following to grant its stu­dent loans.

This would help appli­cants to know why they got it or did not and help have doubts cleared.

The ‘No Guarantor’ policy may be an invita­tion to more students to apply but “who actually

 qualifies for the loans?”

It is about time all manner of interventions, particularly those in the education sector, are offered in a transparent manner to the actual targeted people.

Objective analyses of such interventions, including schol­arships, most of the time go to the privileged in society to the neglect of the under-privileged who must be helped to get out of their sorry situations.

We hope the ‘No Guarantor’ policy of the SLTF is accom­panied by a no-bias practice that would dig deeply into the backgrounds of applicants for deserving ones to receive the loans.

We need to build a society in which equity reigns and one of the ways to do this is to give opportunity to all manner of people to have it easy to acquire tertiary education.

Currently, tertiary education is expensive in the country and so the SLTF and other sources of funding like scholarship funds or foundations should come to support and in an equal-opportunity manner.

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