The Federal Government says efforts are underway to ensure the take-off of the student loan scheme in January 2024 to ensure that Nigerian students can access the loans “to fund their educational aspirations.”
Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed this on Friday in Lagos, while delivering a lecture titled ‘Empowering Nigerian Youths in the Present-Day Economy’ at the 35th convocation ceremony of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH).
According to Gbajabiamila, to make the process seamless, “applicants will apply online, be verified online, and be credited based on the verifiable documents and credentials they have submitted.”
“Earlier this year, His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, signed the Students’ Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act, establishing the Education Loan Fund and creating a new legal framework to provide education financing through interest-free loans to Nigerian students. Efforts are underway to ensure that by January 2024, Nigerian students can access these loans to fund their educational aspirations.
“The application system for the student loan programme is being designed so that there is no interface between the loan administrators and the beneficiaries. Applicants will apply online, be verified online, and be credited based on the verifiable documents and credentials they have submitted. Nobody will need to know anybody to qualify for these loans, so that access to this financing will be genuinely egalitarian.
“The student loan system answers part of the question of how to fund a quality public tertiary education but doesn’t answer all of it. Any serious conversation about the future of tertiary education in Nigeria must include a thorough consideration of the ways and means of addressing the funding needs of public tertiary institutions beyond government subvention.
“In this regard, we cannot for much longer avoid the simple truth that tertiary education costs money, and the best institutions worldwide succeed, amongst other things, because they can generate significant sums through fees, investments and other means.
“The simple truth is that for our institutions to compete favourably, we need more resources than are currently available to address the dangerous decline in the quality of scholarship and academic output and the graduates we produce from many of our institutions.
“In a perfect world, access to education would be a fundamental benefit afforded to every individual from basic through tertiary.
“And our learning centres will be majestic citadels of research and innovation, open to all who seek knowledge, regardless of means. But this is not a perfect world. In this real world, education is a commodity and a quality education even more so.
“Therefore, the central public policy challenge is the conflict between the competing objectives of access and quality. How do we fund a quality tertiary education without imposing costs that make access to quality education impossible for most people?
“We require a programme of aggressive and sustained investment in education. Not only in the physical infrastructure of classrooms and lecture halls but in technology hardware and software to facilitate information exchange and innovation.
“In this new world, we have found ourselves in, nothing has changed as drastically as the nature of work and how we measure productivity. Today, many skills that guarantee employment and a healthy income for previous generations have been made redundant by technological advances.
“This generation will not only be competing with one another for opportunities, but they will also be competing in a global marketplace, against students from all over the world, and against technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, blockchain and financial technology tools that are increasingly replacing the human function in the workplace. We must prepare them with these realities in mind.
“To do this effectively, we need to develop a new understanding of the changing nature of work and the future of employment. The limits of our knowledge hinder us from effectively addressing the challenges of this new age and adapting to the changing realities we cannot escape.
“Collaboration between our higher institutions and the organised private sector is vital to carry out the essential work of engagement, research and review required to bridge the gaps in our knowledge. We need to do this as a necessary precursor to focusing national attention on these issues so that we can jointly rise to the demands of the moment. This is an objective that we cannot, for the sake of our future, leave to the government alone to pursue.”
Rector of the college, Dr Ibraheem Abdul, said the institution had focused on youth empowerment through its various programmes.
“Furthermore, to show how committed we are to the empowering of our youths, the management established Industry Advisory Committee to enhance her dynamic role of producing technical manpower for the economic and social development of Nigeria,” Dr Abdul said.
According to him, when it comes to manpower development, technological advancement and youth empowerment, the college has been at the forefront.
Some of the initiatives targeted at youth empowerment put in place by the school, as highlighted by the rector, include the Quadruple Helix Collaboration Scheme for Youth Empowerment; the establishment of a centre for technology marketing and product development; the YCT Industry Alliance Group (YIAG) Programme; and the Students Work and Study Scheme.
“The Academic Board of the college, on this basis, carefully selected the theme of the lecture title, ‘Empowering Nigerian Youths in the Present Day Economy’. This topic holds significant relevance to our nation as we face the various challenges and opportunities that come with a rapidly evolving global economy. It is imperative that we equip our youth with the knowledge, skills and resources needed to navigate these dynamic economic landscapes and emerge as successful contributors to our society.
“This topic cannot be better handled by anyone other than the chief engineer in charge of the engine room that drives and coordinates all national activities and development.
“The man who has been actively and practically involved in youth empowerment for several years and perfectly understands the workings and directions of the Renewed Hope Agenda of our dear president and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. We have the privilege of hosting a distinguished speaker who will share his expertise and experiences in this field.
“It is my hope that this lecture will not only inspire our graduates but also ignite passion within them to pursue their dreams, overcome obstacles and contribute meaningfully to the development of our nation”, he said.