Proverbs 22:7: The borrower is servant to the lender.
We need to make fees affordable in price. Not these cosmetic measures am hearing.
Some where I read “Government has allocated K2.5 billion to the department of Higher Education Students’Loans and Grants Board to carter for this year’s loans to needy university students in the country” as the “Breaking News” by the Daily Times Malawi.
An extrinsic and artificial look will excite a leader of this piece of news. In a bid to pacify the #UniversityFeesMustFall movement government decides to flight an “advert” that they have allocated K2.5 billion to the loans and grants board.
Wait a minute! When did government realise they needed to allocate such an an amount to this board? This sounds and looks like a government in panick mode. Are they trying to justify the monumental increase in the university fees?
A closer, analytical and intrinsic look at the gigantic allocation reveals one among many things: government that is consumed with “short-termism” when it comes to dealing with problems that require long term solutions! The fact remains the same: the overall macro-economic environment is so bad that the whole increase becomes ill-timed. The would be beneficiaries of the purported loan will require transport money, food, accomidation, stationery and many more things to be effective in their academic pursuits.
The prices of all these things have soared while the incomes of their parents and guardians have stagnated and been eaten away by inflation! Improve the macro-economic fundamentals and people will not groan because of reasonable increments.
Besides, govermment’s reaction seems to be cosmetic. They seem to be addressing just the supply side of one of the factors of production: human capital. Truth be told stories abound of graduates staying for years without getting jobs. In fact most of our graduates are underemployed these days- those that are lucky to get some formal employment. We have failed to create corresponding jobs for our graduates.
Fastforward to long term: The irony of the education loans is that we are not creating corresponding jobs. At the end of the day, we will have some graduates with a loan burden and no job. Let’s hope they will have psychological stamina to cope! In worst case we may end up with educated criminals.
They, Malawi government, haven’t even done a good job to recover the student loans. Will increasing loans not only increase gov’t expenditures with no returns?
Government has always been there to lend money to needy students, that is indeed a good development. However, the issue is not about how much the students can borrow, but can the govt afford to loan out that much to student who will later not get jobs? Can the majority of those that do not get access to the loan still be able to raise fees.
By Eisenhower Mkaka