Friday, 27 September 2013

10,000 students back on full govt bursary

10000 students back on full govt bursaryThe Ministry of Education yesterday released new figures of students who will benefit from the university bursary scheme, reinstating over 10,000 who had been scrapped off the beneficiaries’ list.

Those reinstated on full scholarship represent at least 80 per cent of the 13,000 students who had appealed against a decision to remove them from the scheme, which had gone into force at the beginning of this month.

Effective the academic year 2013-14, which started on September 2, government rolled out a cost-sharing policy for tertiary education, leaving those from “well off” families to pay for their tuition, while others from moderately rich families had to raise half, while the other half would be paid by government.

The determination of which category a student was put in was based on the already existent social classification programme, commonly known as Ubudehe.

In a news briefing yesterday, the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Mathias Harebamungu said that, 13,216 students had raised complaints.

The committees that visited every family of the students billed 10,298 (81 per cent) as deserving full bursary coverage and living allowance.

Also, 2,388 (18 per cent) of the complainants were found to be capable of raising half the tuition, Rwf 300,000 and meet their living allowances, according to Harebamungu.

Ninety-two students lost the appeal, and were told to pay full tuition after the review of their individual cases. In implementing the policy, government harmonised tuition in all public learning  institutions, putting it at Rwf600,000 annually.

“Our government is very generous, we considered all the cases even those that complained after the deadline of filing complaints which was September 10,” said Harebamungu, adding that now all petitioners should go to their respective schools to register for the new academic year.

They can also, starting today, get the decision regarding their petition from the website of Rwanda Education Board.

The deadline for registration for the academic year is September 30, but Harebamungu said registrars will even work during the week-end to register the 30 per cent of the students in public universities who had not yet turned up.

“There is no need for more appeals, because committees were fair enough and students got enough time to appeal.”

The genesis

The new policy was first discussed during the National Dialogue of 2011.

In the meeting, the education and finance ministries were tasked to develop a mechanism that will ensure a cost-sharing arrangement between government and parents who can afford tertiary education of their children.

The rationale was to allow government to attend to other pressing issues like infrastructure development and research at public institutions of higher learning.

To enforce this, the ministries used Ubudehe classification programme that was set up in 2007 to inform poverty reduction strategies in the country.

Under the programme categories one and two will be granted the full tuition fees and living allowance.

Students whose families were found in categories three and four are required  to raise half, while those in categories five and six are billed to be from well off families which can fully meet their children’s tertiary education needs.

Many complaints have arisen since June, when students learnt about their categories, with many saying they would not afford the charges because their families are poor.


Government instituted a case-by-case review process and by September 9, at least 6,000 had filed complaints in different government institutions.

The review was carried out by district-level committees chaired by district vice mayors in charge of social affairs and they had completed the process by Wednesday, which they presented to the education ministry.

By press time, most students contacted did not know about their fate but were optimistic.

According to Wellars Bakundukize, a student from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), “while visiting my family, the committee had quite short time, but I hope I am among those who have been reinstated because I truly deserve full scholarship.”

Yesterday, Bakundukize had come to school from his home in Nyamasheke District but the results had not yet reached his school.

Government had projected to save Rwf10bn through this system and Harebamungu said they are soon working out an arrangement with banks that will be giving loans to the students, which will ease the recovery process after the students have completed school and started working.

Study loans are given out in the hope that the beneficiary will pay back upon getting a job after university.

But this has not always been the case with Rwanda Education Board saying the majority of former beneficiaries have yet to refund the money.

Currently, of the estimated 38,000 students in various public universities, about 26,000 benefit from this bursary arrangement.

The students from families which had been deemed capable of footing their university education had also petitioned the Senate.

10,000 students back on full govt bursary


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