The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) is seeking Sh2.5 billion from the treasury to be channeled as loans to government-sponsored university freshmen for the procurement of at least 60,000 laptops.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools in the country were closed and most students were forced to take up e-learning to continue with their studies.
However, a number of students not able to facilitate their studies online due to lack of essential resources such as computers.
Helb CEO Charles Ringera introduced the idea to facilitate online learning as opposed in-person classes where the virus is likely to spread, and fast.
Should the treasury approve, about 60,000 students will be able to secure laptops using a portion of their Helb loans.
A number of universities have already resumed their classes online as they embrace the new normal.
“This blended learning is the way to go into the future,” Ringera said. “The loans mean students can stop using small devices like mobile phones and at least use laptops.”
The laptop loan proposal comes as the Universities seek to increase their fees from Sh16,000 to Sh48,000. Ringera said that the increased fees would mean increased loans to students.
Half of those joining the universities, about 61,000 freshmen, will be eligible for the laptop loans. Postgraduate students and Diploma students are however not eligible.
Universities are bound to save a lot on operating expenses and register more students if they focus more on online classes.
Ringera said Helb had requested Sh6.2 billion to cover the shortfall caused this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The board is seeking Sh1.7 billion to cover a deficit in Helb loans repayments due to the inability of the beneficiaries to make payments amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The newly increased fees also means the board will need around Sh14 billion to allow students procure the required amounts from the institutions.
Ringera said that the pandemic had forced the board to reduce the loan amounts from Sh45,000 to Sh37,000.
“Given that Helb provides about Sh37,000 currently, that means students or households have to raise another Sh162,000,” Ringera said.