EDITORIAL: Don’t shoot NSFAF in the foot

25 November 2021 | Opinion

The national student fund’s feisty attitude to recover loans given to needy students should not be viewed in isolation, especially when considering the state of governance in the country.

While student movements are partially justified to boycott the repayment of loans, citing that the country has enough resources to provide free tertiary education, there is a scary reality that cannot be ignored – poor fiscal ability of government to fund basic operations.

Whether this limited fiscal capacity is due to mismanagement of public resources or external factors, it would be unwise to cripple NSFAF for those reasons.

While we are all in agreement that education should be free in the country, the realities on the ground call for a different approach on this matter, and this goes both ways.

NSFAF should consider waving even half of the historic student debt as an interim measure, while government should commit to setting up a dedicated student funding facility sustained by different industries as a long-term measure.

NSFAF beneficiaries are not wrong to have an opposing stance to repaying loans, especially when it is clear that resources that could have ensured free education were being squandered over the years on non-productive factors.

It cannot be right that the public must bear the brunt of government’s inability to plan ahead and devise revenue streams to ensure the future of the country’s biggest assets – the youth.

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