Government has secured a $10 million loan facility from a South African financial institution to assist tertiary students pay their fees. Due to the prevailing economic situation in the country, most students are struggling to pay fees, resulting in some of them deferring their studies.
In an interview, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the loan facility would ensure that no student shelves studies due to financial constraints.
He said the Government roped in the South African company because interest rates charged by local banks were exorbitant.
“We have secured a loan from Fundi,” he said.
“We were in discussions with the South African company and we have now signed a deal where they will provide $10 million to the Zimbabwe system. Students will get loans that are cheaper than what is currently obtaining from our banks.
“As I told you, our method has been to use commercial instruments instead of trying to agitate people to lower their interest rates. We’d rather introduce a competitor with lower rates so as to push local banks to lower their rates.”
Prof Murwira said more than 10 000 students in tertiary institutions countrywide were paying their fees through loan facilities.
“Students can also get laptops on loan, which means that if a laptop is worth $300, you pay that amount over two years,” he said. “Isn’t it good? The students can access the money through the Edu-loan system and there are more than 10 000 students who are on Edu-loan.”
“Edu-loan is less strict and it puts more pressure on our backs to also do things in a way that is more convenient to students.”
Prof Murwira said his ministry was positioning itself to stimulate economic growth through innovation which will transform economic programmes.
He said higher and tertiary students will create employment through development of prototypes in industrial parks and innovation hubs.
“This economy is going to gallop like nobody’s business in a few months to come,” said Prof Murwira. “The most important thing is that our history of economic activities is fast going to the dustbin. We are trying to remodel the education system in such a way that it creates its own jobs.
“When we are doing the innovation hubs and the industrial parks, they will create a lot of jobs first of all in the construction phase and then in the operations of these projects. I’m very positive that this economy will do well within a year or two.”