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Bishop calls for continued student loan scheme

The Bishop of the Diocese of Ife, Rt Rev Olubunmi Akinlade, has called on the Federal government to continue supporting the student loan scheme.
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The Bishop of the Diocese of Ife, Rt Rev Olubunmi Akinlade, has called on the Federal government to continue supporting the student loan scheme as a means to enhance the nation’s educational system and increase its Human Capital Development Index.

The Bishop made this appeal during the first session of the 12th synod of the diocese, which concluded last Sunday.

He said, “I think the federal government has started addressing it. I’m aware that the president has launched the Student Loan Scheme, and has appointed Mr Jim Ovia to oversee the scheme. This idea, if well implemented, is laudable. When you look at the advanced countries of this world, they don’t have free education, but they have student loans and scholarships. While the government has a student loan scheme, individuals and state governments should also put up scholarships.

“When a student knows that he’s on scholarship or has taken a loan to be in school, the idea of getting to campus misbehaving, we would have serious-minded people on campuses. Parents can’t pay all these bills. And if you look way back, that was what some of the missionaries did, like the Church Missionary Society. When they came they set up schools and gave scholarships to serious-minded students. And that’s what has encouraged many people to go to school. We need to go back to that.”

On June 12, 2023, Tinubu signed the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, into law to enable indigent students to access interest-free loans for their educational pursuits in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

Akinlade believed the government was making an effort to make education more accessible to indigent students.

He, however, advised that the scheme should not be abused.

“So, The government is moving in the right direction. The important thing is that it must sustain it and it must be serious about it. The student loan scheme is a step in the right direction. Some of the fees being charged in tertiary institutions need to be negotiated, I’m talking of collective negotiation.

“Also, the government needs to step in just to make sure these schools are not exploiting to-be students. When it has been negotiated, and the fees are seen to be truly what is needed, then it can continue. But if they find out that it is too expensive, something should be done about it. Of course, the government has to continue sponsoring its schools to some extent. So, it’s going to be a mix of all these things to arrive at the optimal solution.”

The cleric further disclosed that the diocese had rolled out scholarships, encouraging parents to bring their wards to school to be educated.

Akinlade noted, “In the diocese, we have different scholarship programmes. Some individuals have endowed the diocese with money, which we have invested and the proceeds of it are what we are using to sponsor some students in higher institutions, in theological seminaries and even in our secondary school.

“The diocese itself has set aside some amount of money to sponsor students in the schools. So, we encourage parents to bring their children so they can go to school.”

According to the bishop, the scholarship programmes are part of the diocese’s social corporate responsibility to the community it serves.

“We learn from the CMS, who established our churches. That’s what they did; they gave scholarships to students then. We too are going back that way, and we are giving out scholarships.

“The diocese on its own is giving out scholarships to 50 students. It does not take care of everything but it goes a long way. And we will try and increase the as we go on,” he assured.

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