Wednesday, November 19, 2008

UNIVERSITY CRISIES

TV PROGRAM PAMBANUA 19/11/2008 CHANNEL TEN

DIALOGUE ON CURRENT UNIVERSITY STUDENT UNREST IN TANZANIA PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES REASONS AND THE WAY FORWAD .

BY ONESMO P.OLENGURUMWA PRESIDENT UNIVERSITY OF DAR ES SALAAM HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION.
PART ONE
The reason behind un endless university students strikes can be categorized into 2 groups.
Before all the public should know that students have basic claims as provided by the constitutions of Tanzania Article 11.and other relevant laws

The first category relates to crises originating from principal demands or complaints directed to the University, for example the ‘Akivaga crisis’ of 1971whose source was the undemocratic way the University was run.

Second category of the causes of crises in universities, especially Tanzanian public universities, is the declining capacity and growing unwillingness of the state to finance universities.
A reactionary, obsolete and/or irrelevant curriculum, bad and unfair examination rules and systems; shortage of learning facilities like space, books and desks; shortage of competent staff; lack of research funds, and others, are the day to day questions that lay the foundations for student unrest.
These factors have been unfairly misrepresented by the state and the state-controlled media, which always depicts students as greedy and unreasonable in their demands.

The second category can be seen as major cause of current university crises due to an abrupt and poorly established loans board for higher learning institutions. , Building viable student loan programs is difficult in countries with high and variable inflation, low data-gathering capacity and high unemployment rates even for college graduates. We can therefore say that Tanzania adopting the high leaning institutions in 1999 was a grace offence to majority of Tanzania students who are poor.2004 the High learning education loans board Act was enacted without proper research on how it can be implemented without harming the poor.

Students claim against the way the disbarments of loans are conducted.

The board has no good ways of testing economic status of students, therefore due to means testing program many students who are eligible for loans have lost that right or they get it not fully as it is provided by section 17 of the loans Act when reads mutandis mutandis with its 2005 regulations and the constitutions.

The constitutions of Tanzanian Article 11(3) provides that the government shall endeavor to ensure that there are equal and adequate opportunities to all people to enable them to acquire education and vocational training at all level of schools and learning institutions. Therefore classifying students by giving others sufficient loans and giving others inadequate loans is unconstitutional and it infringes the rights of students from poor families access to education,
Many students have been given loans inadequately and this is the basis of their claims.
This introduction describes current research on student loans by the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and the World Bank, and draws on the conclusions of a series of Educational Forums on student loans organized by IIEP, to conclude that student loans are feasible, and can generate additional resources for higher education, but only if loan programmes are well designed and efficiently managed.
In Tanzania the repayment proportion of loans has not been very significant in most cases The element which contributes to the lack of financial viability of student loan programs is the low level of managerial efficiency, especially in public agencies, which results in high administrative costs.
According to the Act 2004 and it’s regulations of 2005 Eligible student for loans, beginning must attain the following criteria:-
Be a Tanzanian (as defined in the Act)
Have been Admitted to an accredited (recognized) Institutions as a candidate for a First Degree or Advanced Diploma.
Make a written application in the prescribed form which when approved by the Board shall form the basis of the loan contract, to be known as the Student Loan Agreement between the applicant and the Board.
Be a person who is not fully funded by other organizations or sources.
Students pursuing approved undergraduate degrees or advanced diploma courses on full time basis at recognized institutions in Tanzania.
Be a continuing student who has passed the examinations necessary to enable him to advance to the following year or stage of study.
Overseas undergraduate students under bilateral arrangements/ agreements between the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and other Governments.
The Needy students must be
v is an orphan
v is disabled or has disabled poor parents
v is from a poor single parent family
v is from marginalized and disadvantaged groups
v is from a low income threshold family earning national minimum wage or below.

The Board may before granting a loan to an applicant must seek and consider confidential appraisal report of the applicant from: sections 7 ,8, 9 and sections 10 of the 2005 high learning educations loans regulations
(a) village secretary of the village in which the applicant comes from;
(b) faith based Organization in which the applicant is a member; or
(c) a secondary school or college in which an applicant attended.
(3) Where it is proved by the Board that an applicant-
(a) is poor or disadvantaged person; and
(b) has been granted an admission letter by a higher education Institution,

.
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Experience from other countries shows that there is good and efficiency system of granting loans to students. Student loan programs are funded from any one of the following sources:
government, the students, companies in the productive sectors, alumni and philanthropists,
and international agencies.

Venezuela, works in partnership with a commercial bank responsible for the financial evaluation of applicants, loan disbursement and collection. A similar arrangement operates in Jamaica, involving a larger number of domestic and foreign banks. In Canada and Poland, the government is only responsible for program design, interest rate subsidy, and provision of guarantees against
default. The capital used to offer loans to the students is raised by the commercial banks
themselves.

PART TWO

THE WAY FORWARD
.
v Students need to be aware of the existence and availability of the program. Second, they must understand clearly what is involved in a loan (eligibility criteria, grace period, repayment obligations, , etc) in terms of responsibilities and obligations as Article 18 (d) of constitutions.
v A good information and marketing strategy to promote the student loan program and
Ensure widespread awareness among eligible students and institutions;
v Transparent eligibility criteria to ensure that any subsidy element be targeted to the most
deserving students (academically and socially); ;
v Efficient collection mechanisms, including an appropriate legal framework, to minimize
default;
v Because the country is still poor in data collection and gathering, therefore all students in public university should be given 100%
v Means testing has proved failure ,it should therefore be stopped.
v Efficient institutional management of all key processes (evaluation and selection of
beneficiaries, academic monitoring, loan collection, financial management), based on an
adequate computerized management information system; and
v A stable management team.
v The most straightforward approach consists of requiring official income tax data to
check the family background of applicants
v of the view that, together with universities themselves, the government should play its role in finding permanent solutions aimed at pre-empting and/or preventing such crises. It should not play the role of a spectator

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