Rwanda Minister of Education (MINEDUC), Dr Eugene Mutimura, who appeared before parliament today, on February 16th, 2018, has announced new changes in students’ loans.
Dr Mutimura said that students’ stipend in government higher learning institutions was increased from Rwf 25,000 to Rwf 35,000; making an increase of Rwf 10,000 with effect from the next financial year.
This increase has excited students on government scholarship including Sylvain Gakuba, a student at University of Rwanda, Huye Campus, who could hardly consistent meals.
“I was eating once a day so that I could end a month with the little that remains after paying the rent,” said Sylvan Gakuba, a University of Rwanda student at Huye Campus.
Gakuba says that his stipend could only last for 3 weeks and it was difficult for him to show up in class in the last week of the month.
“On several occasions, I missed classes because I felt dizzy,” he said, adding that this time he feels relieved since a restaurant costs him Rwf 25,000 and Rwf 6,500 for rent.
“I will be at least able to eat and use the remaining for hygiene and school materials,” he said.
Janet Sezibera, Vice Guild President at University of Rwanda, College of Business and Economics, appreciates this move to improve students’ welfare, but says the money is still little compared to living conditions.
“Rwf 10,000 increase is better than nothing but if you look at living conditions 35,000 is still little,” she said giving an example that at Gikondo Campus, a restaurant is Rwf30,000 per month.
Meanwhile, the ministry has also hiked university tuition. From the next academic year, science students will be paying Rwf2,000,000 from Rwf900,000 while social science students will have to pay Rwf900,000 from Rwf600,000.
Apparently, the change in students’ scholarships was triggered by lawmakers.
On October 10th, 2016 Rwanda lawmakers approved a draft law moving the management of scholarship loans from REB to the Rwanda High Education Council (HEC).
HEC would approve the loans, while the disbursement and recovery is handled by Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), according to previous laws.
Lawmakers criticized the Rwf25,000 monthly stipend given to university students and said that it is too small amount of money to sustain their living.
“Our country is poor and we know it, but pretending that a student can pay meals, pay rent and other basic needs from Rwf25,000 is a problem,” said Theobald Mporanyi, Member of Parliament then.
“The consequences of bad living conditions are worse to mention, as students’ loans are shifted to HEC. The institution should work on stipends disbursement.”