Let’s pay HELB loans to give others a chance at getting university education

Helb beneficiaries pay their loans at the institution’s offices at the Anniversary Towers, Nairobi. [File, Standard]

For almost ten years, the government has been championing 100 per cent transition rate of learners to secondary school and colleges.

Due to high levels of poverty and unemployment, there are families who cannot afford fees. That is one of the reasons why mitigating efforts are always made, by either the government or private agencies, to see several needy students through their schooling.

At college and university level, there is the facility from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb), which has seen many young Kenyans finish their education. Simply put, Helb is more of a merry-go-round facility where the beneficiaries pay back so that those behind them can benefit. This is where the problem lies: There are many Kenyans who want to pay back but are unable because they have not had meaningful employment opportunities. Then there are those who have the opportunities but decide not to pay.

Now things are not rosy as 95,000-odd needy university and college students are at risk of missing out on Helb loans, and missing the opportunity to attain college education, because the institution is not financially stable.

Helb says its poor financial situation is brought about by budget cuts and its inability to recover Sh9.5 billion from 85,000 previous beneficiaries.

Two years ago, Helb sought the assistance of law enforcement agencies to track down defaulters, but there was an uproar because it could not be established whether the defaulters had deliberately declined to pay or were unemployed. The onus is on the government to ensure that needy students are not left behind, otherwise, its initiative of 100 per cent transition rate will have failed.

But at the same time, people who have benefited from Helb, and are in a position to pay back, should do so, so that others can also benefit. 


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