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Tinubu to launch National Student Loan Scheme amid delay

President's Initiative Faces Technical Hurdles and Calls for Inclusion of Overseas Students

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President Bola Tinubu is set to inaugurate the much-anticipated National Student Loan Programme on Thursday, March 14, 2024, despite delays and technical challenges encountered during its implementation.

The announcement was made by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale, during a televised discussion titled ‘Counting the Cost of President Tinubu’s Reforms.’

Ngelale highlighted the significance of the scheme in alleviating financial burdens on Nigerian families and youth, emphasizing its role in mitigating economic strains experienced by citizens.

The initiative stems from the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, signed by Tinubu on June 12, 2023, aimed at providing interest-free loans to indigent students pursuing tertiary education within Nigeria. The Act also established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund to oversee loan disbursement and recovery processes.

Despite initial plans for a September rollout, subsequent delays pushed the commencement date to January. However, technical preparations and an expanded mandate to include skills development loans contributed to further postponements.

Acknowledging the scheme’s delay, Dr Akintunde Sawyerr, Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund, cited the necessity for backend system enhancements to facilitate a technologically-driven application process.

In a related development, members of the Nigerian community in West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, advocated for the inclusion of students studying abroad in the loan scheme. Tunmise Ajiboye, representing the community, urged the Nigerian government to extend loan benefits to students overseas, emphasizing the importance of equitable access to higher education support.

Ajiboye also emphasized the need for government assistance regarding exchange rates and financial management for students abroad, underscoring the collective demand for recognition and support from Nigerians living outside the country.

As the National Student Loan Programme prepares for its launch, technical adjustments and calls for broader inclusivity highlight ongoing challenges in Nigeria’s educational financing landscape, underscoring the imperative for comprehensive solutions to address the diverse needs of students at home and abroad.

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