The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has given government a two-week ultimatum to provide the Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) with funds so that student loans would be released timeously.
Mr. Isaac Jay Hyde, President of NUGS at a Press Conference in Accra, said if government fails to act by releasing the funds for disbursement of the student loans, they would resort to demonstrations to compel government to act.
Mr. Hyde noted that students who relied on the loans had been left in limbo and they were also in a state of “hopelessness” as to how they would survive in the academic year without the disbursement.
“Consequently, there will be a massive exodus of deferred students from our tertiary institutions if no action is taken immediately to salvage the situation,” he recounted.
NUGS, Mr. Hyde said for the past three years, they have observed that there had been delays in the release of funds to the SLTF, thereby, affecting the welfare of students.
The SLTF, which replaced the Social Security and National Insurance Trust Loans, seeks to ensure equal access to tertiary education by every eligible Ghanaian by providing them with some financial cushioning through loans.
It is estimated that over 35,000 undergraduate tertiary students access the student loans from the fund annually.
Mr. Hyde said projection is that, there would be upsurge of students accessing the loan in the 2020-2021 academic year, following the completion of the beneficiaries of the first batch of Free Senior High School Programme.
NUGs expressed its displeasure about how SLTF was administering its duties in terms of fund disbursement to students’ beneficiaries in this academic year.
The Union entreated government to as a matter of urgency release the fund to the Secretariat for onward disbursement since members of the Union could no longer wait, adding, “We are really suffering.”
According to Mr. Hyde the union was aware of the huge number of Ghanaians who have benefitted from SLTF scheme whiles undertaking their tertiary education but some people had defaulted in the payment of the loans and interest had accrued on them although those persons are in gainful employment.
He reminded defaulters to fulfil their financial obligation so as to make funds available to run the scheme.
“NUGS will like to admonish all students across the country who are beneficiaries of SLFT to remain calm and desist any action whiles the union resort to the necessary laid down procedures to engage authorities to get the matter resolved.”
Mr. Hyde said the Union was in support of the SLTF effort to use every legal means available to get the loans disbursement restored.
On the New Voter Register, Mr. Hyde said the Union was shocked at the seemingly unending rancorous debate that has inundated the country’s media following the announcement of a New Biometric Voter Management Solution and the Voter’s Registration Compilation Exercise by the Electoral Commission (EC).
According to him, the debate over the register had led to the “total poisoning” of the political atmosphere in the country.
“We call on all political parties and stakeholders to continue to use the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) Meetings to engage the EC on their concerns,” he added.
The EC must do well to engage all opposing parties and stakeholders in a manner that will show respect and appreciation of their view in a democratic space.
He said: “We strongly call on all stakeholders to respect the independence of the Electoral Commission and desist from acts of intimidation, coercion and inducement
Mr. Hyde said the EC must also be transparent in its dealings with all critical parties and stakeholders, adding that the EC must work assiduously to allay fears in order to command strong confidence and trust in the electoral process.
“We demand nothing short of a free, fair and transparent election from the EC,” he stressed.