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New students grants rolled out

by Staff reporter
30 Jul 2017 at 08:07hrs | Views
THE Government has rolled out an Educational Loan Facility for students in higher and tertiary education starting in August to mitigate growing problems where students are deferring or abandoning studies due to financial challenges.

In addition, a law is being crafted that will see drastic changes in programmes that are offered by tertiary institutions as they will be mandated to teach 80 percent science and technical courses and 20 percent of social sciences and humanities.

Speaking at the 28th Gweru Polytechnic College Graduation and Prize Giving ceremony in Gweru last week, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said under the new student grants, the parent/guardian is the borrower and the student is the co-borrower of the loan. The payment frequency varies depending with the borrower's income but it can be weekly, monthly, half yearly or yearly.

"There are two challenges that higher and tertiary students face and which we must address. The first challenge is the financing of their study programmes. To this end Government is sensitive to the plight of current and future students who lack the capacity to finance their education. Evidence abounds that such students often fail to complete their studies or simply choose not to pursue them at all.

"Government is finalising the introduction of an Educational Loan Facility for higher and tertiary education, starting in the academic year. This should be in a matter of days. The facility, co-funded and guaranteed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), will see selected private financial institutions rolling out affordable loan facilities to students and parents under a Pay as You Learn concept," he said.

Prof Moyo said the Government had approved six financial institutions that had met the requirements to offer loans to students on behalf of RBZ.
"The facility will ensure that higher and tertiary education institutions will be better able to deploy adequate resources for quality human capital development. The institutions that have met the requirements to offer loans to students on behalf of RBZ are CBZ Bank Limited, Eduloan, GetBucks, NMB Bank Limited, People's Own Savings Bank (POSB) and ZB Bank Limited. Prospective students will access application forms at their respective institutions, the participation banks or from the ministry's website www.stem263.co.zw. We expect the distribution of the application forms to start without further delay," he said.

Prof Moyo said the ministry would bolster its loan facility by following up on tertiary students who accessed educational grants and loans from Government between 1980 and 2006 so that they would pay a fixed $1 000 each.

Meanwhile, his deputy Dr Godfrey Gandawa has said the Government was working to transform tertiary institutions to teach more science and technical subjects than social sciences and humanities. He said under the proposed law, institutions will be compelled to teach 80 percent science and technical courses and 20 percent of social sciences and humanities.

"We are coming up with the law and policy which is at an advanced stage." Dr Gandawa also said it was worrying that most university graduates were not ready for employment and required further training upon completing their studies.

"The reality is, no university graduate is ready for employment as they leave university. None of them. They all need further training. (Further training does) not (mean) adding years at college. They (graduates) are employed but must learn the trade and industry further."

Dr Gandawa added that the country does not have enough graduates relevant to the country's needs and suggested that higher and tertiary education shifts focus.

"We do not have enough graduates in the necessary fields, what students want to study is not necessarily what the knowledge economy demands. Higher and tertiary education should not only focus on employability but mostly on research that transforms communities," he posted.

He said the country needed to prepare itself for Industry 4.0 which, in his opinion, is already upon Zimbabwe. Industry 4.0 refers to the trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a "smart factory".

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