By Bishop Witmos and Nephtali Kalumbi
Higher Education Students’ Loans and Grants Board has approved a provision list of loans beneficiaries for higher education for the 2023/2024 academic year.
Spokesperson for the board, Henry Chingaipe, said at a press briefing in Mangochi on Tuesday that out of 27,079 students who applied for the loans, 26,000 students have been approved, waiting for vetting and bonding of the names by the respective universities and colleges.
‘‘We received a total of 27,079 loan applications from students in 37 public and private higher education institutions, but upon rigorous assessment of the loan applications, 26,000 applicants met our eligibility criteria.
‘‘This represents a 93.3 percent of the loan applicants, and it is a 7.1 percent increase from the number of students that were given loans in the 2022/2023 academic year,’’ said Chingaipe.
He said the board has made significant strides to ensure more deserving students should benefit from the loan, adding that budget for this academic year is about K22 billion, and that the board has made an increase of over 2,000 students from what it approved last academic year.
Chingaipe also announced the approved provisional list of Open Distance Learning (ODL) students, benefiting from the World Bank-funded project called Skills for a Vibrant Economy (SAVE).
He said the board has approved 713 students under ODL, out of 809 applicants from five public universities/colleges and one private university, adding that budget for these students is about K652 million.
Chingaipe therefore applauded the Press Trust and the World Bank for being credible partners in complementing government efforts in supporting needy students in various public and private institutions.
Speaking in a separate interview, one of the education commentators, Wonderful Mkhutche, described the development as a right step towards empowering the needy and deserving students.
‘‘Looking at the economic situation, it is very difficult for the board take each and every student. But hearing that there is an increase on the number of approved students from last academic year, it is a commendable job because this will allow needy students to acquire education,’’ said Mkhutche.