The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) says government should enhance recovery of student loans in order to scale up instead of abolishing meal allowances.

In a statement, JCTR stated that the removal of meal allowances for university students may deprive beneficiaries of affording the basic necessities which could in turn infringe on their right to a dignified life.

“The fact that student bursaries have been turned into loans to students negates the need to abolish meal allowances as they are subject to recovery. What Government needs to do is to enhance recovery of student loans/bursaries in order to allow for scaling up of bursaries and increase the scheme beneficiaries. While JCTR agrees to the need to scale up bursaries to other public universities, we object to abolishing meal allowances which essentially is denying some students an opportunity to receive tertiary education. This move is not progressive because it promotes inequality in our society as students from poor families are not allowed to receive tertiary education which is key to addressing the malaise of inequality. The removal of meal allowances may deprive students of affording the basic necessities and may infringe on their right to a dignified life,” JCTR stated.

JCTR urged government to improve the bursary management system so that deserving and vulnerable students benefitted from the loan scheme.

“JCTR urges the government to improve the bursary management system so that only deserving and vulnerable students are the ones to benefit from the loan scheme. As a country we should be talking about increasing meal allowances for our students to enable them meet the high cost of living. Further, JCTR urges the Government to cut down on unnecessary spending in other areas such as foreign travel of government officials and move those resources to education instead. JCTR also decries the abrupt and unilateral manner in which the decision to abolish meal allowances was made. We therefore call for a transparent and consultative process to precede such announcements,” stated JCTR.

“With the high cost of education, bursaries provide an opportunity for many people to earn an education. Without assistance from an outside source, students may have trouble paying for the degree they need in order to enter the workforce and become a contributing member of society. Provision and enhancing access to education is an investment and not a cost, this has been proved by countries like Japan and China that have educated their citizenry into prosperity. This provides enough evidence that education improves the economy as educated people are more productive and less dependent on provision of public goods.”