Government has so far located 11,800 university graduates out of 19,000 that have been targeted for this year to pay back loans government. Ministry of Higher Education public relations officer Chiselwa Kawanda said 11,876 student loans scheme beneficiaries have been traced through the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA).
Ms Kawanda said in an interview that the Public Service Management Division (PSMD) has also established that 4,744 beneficiaries of the loan scheme are currently employed by Government. “Over 19,000 loans have been targeted for repayment this year because they have matured. Out of that total, 11, 876 student loan scheme beneficiaries have been traced through NAPSA while 4,744 have been established to be employed by Government,” she said.
Ms Kawanda said the recovery of past mature loans is a major component of resource mobilisation that has been undertaken by the Ministry of Higher Education through the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board (HELSB). She said HELSB depends on funding from the Ministry of Finance but that there has been an increased demand for higher education which has not matched funding from the treasury, thereby creating pressure on the board.
“In 2016, over K417 million was received, while K472 million was received in 2017 and K567 million in 2018, respectively,” Ms Kawanda said. She said the bursaries committee operated from 1962 to June 2016 as a statutory instrument to administer grants, loans, scholarships and fellowships for university education to Zambians locally and abroad but lacked the legal basis to recover matured loans from beneficiaries.
“Initially, the bursaries committee catered for all expenses of the students. However, over the years, the student population has increased from 312 in 1966 to over 19,000 in 2018. The government introduced a student loan scheme in 2004 as the bursary scheme was gradually phased out,” she said.
She stated that Government only has the capacity to sponsor about 4,000 students out of the over 11,000 students who apply for loans. Government announced that it will this month start recovering student loans from former students who pursued studies at the University of Zambia, Copperbelt University and Kapasa Makasa University.