The other day, my colleague at work initiated a debate on The Higher Education Loans Board, loans repayment terms and consequences of defaulting.
He, just like many others, was a beneficiary of the money disbursed to university students upon successful application.
However, he has not started repaying the loan and strongly feels the Board is frustrating unemployed youth with ‘hefty’ fines in case the repayment terms aren’t followed to the latter.
HELB slaps former university students who do not start repaying the loans one year after course completion with a monthly fine of KSh5,000.
Unemployment is an enormous crisis in Kenya, with millions of university graduates stranded with their degrees and diploma certificates scouting for jobs. Let me at this point call him ‘Jeremy’ – not his real name.
Jeremy argued that the government was doing very little to aid the youth secure jobs immediately after graduating from tertiary institutions of learning. Many at times one only secures a job because they have ‘god fathers’ in those companies. Things have shifted from ‘are you qualified for the job to ‘do you know anybody?’
Since securing a job after graduating has become a tall order, with some youth opting to use placards in public places seeking employment, why is HELB frustrating graduates with the heavy fines?
|PHOTO: Courtesy- standardmedia.co.ke|
As the debate developed and everyone in the office waded into the conversation, something else came to the fore; the requirement of KSh1,000 by HELB in order to be awarded a clearance certificate, regardless of whether you never benefited from the fund.
Personally I never received a loan from HELB, and here I am, being told to pay a fee of KSh1,000 to prove that I didn’t receive any loan from the loans board.
Methinks the government and the board are frustrating university graduates.
Education has become a burden to the youth, in terms of affordability. Employers too do not want to hire uneducated staff.
Our Members of Parliament have the obligation to put HELB to question why graduates are being subjected to heavy fines and the Ksh1,000 requirement for clearance.
Today, one cannot land a job in the public sector without the HELB certificate. Basically, this means if I never benefited from the fund and I have no source of income, I cannot get a job at the county or national government – because I don’t have money to prove I never received a loan! This is what I would call robbery without violence.
The President should rise to the occasion and save graduates from this stress of having to pay fines because they have not landed jobs.