President Uhuru Opens up HELB to Kenyans Studying Abroad

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has opened up Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) financing to Kenyans studying in foreign colleges in a move likely to further strain the agency struggling to cope with local financing demand.

President Kenyatta on Thursday told students studying in India to apply for the HELB financing, saying the government’s general policy was to see every Kenyan in an accredited university abroad benefit from the fund.

“I assure Kenyan university students in India that they are eligible for loans from HELB,” President Kenyatta said in New Delhi at the close of his two-day official visit to India.

He was fielding questions by students regarding their dwindling numbers in India, something he promised to address.

Plans, he added, were under way to increase slots for students wishing to pursue specialised courses in India.

The HELB has struggled to keep regular students in the institutions of higher learning citing low budgetary allocation and high default by past beneficiaries.

The agency has embarked on an elaborate plan to track defaulters locally and abroad.

As at November last year, the agency had 85,364 loan defaulters who cumulatively owed the financier Sh9.7 billion.

HELB revealed in June last year that it could not trace about 25,000 past beneficiaries, majority of whom thought to have disappeared to foreign countries.

The State House push to finance students pursuing courses abroad is, however , not a new one. In October last year, President Kenyatta, during a State visit to Sudan, called on Kenyans studying in universities abroad to apply for HELB loans.

The education financier was recently on the spot after a World Bank report revealed that it was spending more money on administrative costs at the expense of issuing loans to students.

The report titled Expanding tertiary education for well-paid jobs-competitiveness and shared prosperity in Kenya, was released in November 2016 and presented to Education Secretary Fred Matiang’i.

Recently, HELB announced that more than 86,000 government-sponsored students who had joined universities in August to September would wait longer for loans.

This was after it moved the deadline for receiving applications to October 21, from September 30, to accommodate the more than 40,000 learners who were yet to submit forms.

SOURCE>>> BUSINESS DAILY AFRICA

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