Students Loan Trust Fund now a Curse
I write to express my disappointment from your unsatisfactory level of service to the scheme’s beneficiaries in the 2018/2019 academic year.
You are responsible for helping to alleviate hardship in education for the less privilege students in tertiary institutions by providing them a timely financial support as enshrined in your vision statement but unfortunately, you are rather worsening their hardship.
Frustration has engrossed beneficiaries of students’ loan trust fund in University for Development Studies, as well as our colleagues from other tertiary institutions in Ghana as they wait in vain for the disbursement of the second trimester STLF funds.
"Day after day, he wakes up deep in the night checking on his phone to see a message from your office, my friend narrated." Barely two days for us to start our end of trimester examination yet you have not settled us.
It can be recalled that last trimester, we experienced such unpleasant situation which has affected the performance of a lot of students on your scheme abysmally. Without mercy, we witnessed the drop in Grade Point Average (GPA) of a lot of students on your scheme.
It came as no surprise to some of us who are connected to these students because we bear witness to their hardships. One of my colleagues narrated to me how he couldn’t attend lectures because he had no penny to board a "trotro" to campus. He could not stay in his hostel either because he hasn’t paid for prepaid. He was lucky enough to have a good landlord who did not eject him from his room for the late payment of his hostel fee. Talking about feeding, his dominant strategy is zero-one-zero
I do not want to mention the unpleasant situation our mates in Ghana Institute of Journalism and UCC witnessed, which has equally affected them psychologically and would absolutely reflect in the performance of some of them. May I ask this simple question; is being on student loan trust fund now a curse? I think affirmative!
They were of high hopes that this trimester is going to be different but lo and behold, it has even worsen. The trimester is almost over but they keep receiving empty promises from your office through the media that they will be paid soon, some even upon your empty promises went ahead to borrow from friends with the hope of paying, only for them to know they are been used for politics. Soon, you keep telling them. How soon, they don’t know. They do not want soon, they want it today.
I still remember one of your goals; loan disbursement in two weeks! It has suddenly been changed to loan disbursement after four months? Please do well to serve them a notice so they can carry enough gari from home that will see them through their four months stay on campus.
Disturbed colleagues and activists including myself made enquiries at the appropriate quarters to settle our uncertainty as we did last trimester but all your officers keep telling us is “the Fund is working closely with the Ministries of Education and Finance as well as GETFUND to make funding available for the disbursement of the loans.” This means that there is no precise date for disbursement. It also means that it can be next trimester or even next academic year, after all, who cares about the poor suffering student in school? Hmm
This situation can be likened to a bad parenting. Think about a parent who secured admission for his/her ward in a tertiary institution precisely, University for Development Studies in faraway Upper West Region. In the earlier days, he regularly takes care of this child by sending him a timely bulk financial support for the trimester.
The child loves his father and relied solely on him for financial stipend. The child also, not to disappoint his father study very hard to obtain a good grade (High GPA). Barely two years in school, his Father started delaying his financial support. What do you think will happened to this child? Well, we all know the consequence.
what a poor lonely child! Hmmm.
What really keeps me thinking is that our leaders who have benefited from free education even to the tertiary level and some received scholarships to study in Europe and are our todays leaders, don’t see anything bad about this frustration students are going through.
Ok, think about it this way, this fund is even not free. It’s a loan that students will be chased after to pay few years after school, yet the scheme is hesitating in paying them?
Could it be that some individuals used their said money to purchase some securities and waiting for it to mature before they attend to these poor dying in school.?
My recommendation is that if the scheme is bankrupt, they should just inform the students so they can find other sources of funding or perhaps put their minds at peace by staying home rather than this frustration the scheme is taking them through.
I am not pretty sure students loan trust fund would be serving its mandate if things continue in this manner.
Do not be a curse to students rather a blessing !
Writer: Yonnah Keleku
Majority Leader, 6th Paliament.