President Bola Tinubu’s Student Loan Scheme Set to Launch Amidst Global Calls for Inclusion.

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President Bola Tinubu is poised to unveil the much-anticipated Student Loan Scheme on Thursday, March 14, 2024, marking a significant milestone in his commitment to education reform. This revelation comes from Mr Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, during an episode of TVC’s Politics on Sunday, where he detailed the president’s ongoing welfare initiatives.

Ngelale underscored the importance of the National Student Loan Programme, describing it as a groundbreaking initiative that addresses the financial burdens faced by Nigerians, particularly young individuals and families. However, he acknowledged the challenges associated with fame, emphasizing the need for celebrities to strike a balance between their public persona and their authentic selves.

President Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, into law on June 12, 2023, with the aim of providing interest-free loans to indigent students pursuing higher education in Nigerian tertiary institutions. This legislative move was a fulfillment of one of his campaign promises to liberalize education funding.

The act, commonly known as the Students Loan Law, established the Nigerian Education Loan Fund to handle all aspects of loan requests, grants, disbursements, and recoveries. Despite initial expectations of implementation in September and subsequent delays to January, the President proposed a budget of N50bn for the scheme’s take-off in the 2024 budget.

The launch, initially scheduled for February 21, was delayed to expand the scheme’s mandate to include students seeking loans for skill development. President Tinubu directed the fund to extend interest-free loans to students interested in skill-development programs, recognizing the importance of vocational skills alongside traditional academic qualifications.

Dr Akintunde Sawyerr, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund, confirmed the delay, citing the need to perfect backend systems for the technologically driven scheme.

Meanwhile, members of the Nigerian community in West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, are advocating for the inclusion of students studying abroad in the student loan scheme. During a meeting with the acting Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Cyprian Heen, the community emphasized the importance of enabling students abroad to participate in the government’s loan scheme.

Representative Tunmise Ajiboye urged the government to provide support for students studying abroad, addressing issues such as exchange rates and foreign exchange. The community also called for diaspora voting, international passport renewal delivery by post in Nigeria and the diaspora, and a platform for Nigerians living abroad who want their children to obtain Nigeria’s state of origin. These requests highlight the global nature of education and the need for comprehensive support mechanisms for Nigerian students around the world.

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