Experts who are concerned about Nigeria’s educational system have suggested that embracing student loans is not a viable option for developing education in Nigeria.
The experts stated this in an Arise News investigation, amid a proposal by the presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to recruit more teachers and also give student loans as part of efforts to build the youth capacity.
Rather than students loan, the experts proposed an increase in education tax as a viable option to develop the sector.
Among the experts are ASUU President Prof. Emmanuel Osedeke, the MD of Financial Derivatives Company Limited Bismark Rewane and others.
Experts’ view: ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osedeke, noted that even in a country like America that has a better structure, students don’t repay loans. He said:
“Is it in Nigeria where you have millions of Nigeria under the poverty line that people will go to take loans and pay, where unemployment is as high as 30-40%?”
Bismark Rewane, MD/CEO, of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, pointed out that the first thing a lender worries about is the source of payment of the loan.
“You are lending student money to get an education without knowing whether they would get a job, I don’t think lending money to students works anywhere. In the US it is still a problem. There is no point in lending and giving debt forgiveness. I believe a much more viable option is to give scholarships and grants and bursaries to people.”
In his view, the monies that will be saved from subsidies should be deployed almost totally to education as free and compulsory education is a right.
Taiwo Oyeele, West Africa Tax Leader, PWC Nigeria raise doubt as to whether student loan should be a viable proposition in Nigeria.
To him, the first issue is around data and identity management. According to him, we still don’t have a unique means of identification. Even though we have the NIN, he said it hasn’t been well established and entrenched into the system. Hence, he noted that it will be difficult to track when they are employed, how much they need to pay back and other important information.
“We have around 2 million undergraduates in all the Nigerian universities as of today and 300,000 post graduates students. If you estimate the amount of money they would need, you can talk about at least N1 trillion for a year at least for the first few years before students start repaying. That’s going to be a big one because if the government can afford about N1 trillion why have we not been funding the demands of ASUU?”
Tax education: For Osedeke, tax education should be a much more realistic option. He said:
“They are saying there is no money to fund the educational system and we are suggesting we should not introduce tuition fees for the family of a man that earns N30,000 a month. instead of taxing those that are under the poverty line, why don’t you take 10% of the profit of the big men and the big companies and inject it into the educational system, so that they can have access to good education, create job and a better country where we don’t need to spend so much on insecurity.”