Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) CEO Charles Ringera has clarified crucial issues touching on the ongoing debate on HELB repayment.
This is following a backlash of the government’s plan to recover over Ksh. 7.2 billion owed by 74,000 defaulters.
Speaking on Wednesday in an interview with Citizen TV, Ringera said HELB terms didn’t specify that one must secure a job to start repaying the student loan.
“There is nowhere actually in that loan application form we have said, you must get a job before paying, what we say is that finish school, we give one year, and settle down…settling can mean going into business, getting married to a rich family our any other way….” the CEO said.
However, Ringera said if circumstances force a student to stay longer in school than expected, then they can write to the Loans board to have their repayment period reviewed to avoid being penalized.
“When you realize that you delaying in college, please give us that information. Write to us, visit us and tell us I’m actually in for another year, adjust my graduation dates….we are human beings and we know that such can be tolerated,” said Ringera.
According to the HELB boss, the board assumes that a degree course in any public university takes an average of four years before one graduates.
This, however, is not the case in many public universities in the country as some courses take longer than the four-year period specified by the board.
Last week, a move by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to recover Ksh7.2 billion owed by 74,000 defaulters caused a backlash with many terming it ill advised.
Making the declaration, Education CS Amina Mohammed stated that the crackdown – which will involve other enforcement agencies – would begin any time from now, requesting employers to help them track down the individuals.
“We are also going to partner with our law enforcement agencies to track down those holding jobs and yet are reluctant to stand up to be counted as responsible and patriotic citizens who honour their debts,” she affirmed.
Reiterating the CS’s sentiments, Helb chief executive Charles Ringera noted that they are also seeking to partner with the Foreign Affairs ministry to track down defaulters in the diaspora.
“We are having a large number of graduates leaving the country to work abroad majority who have defaulted,” he exclaimed.
The sentiments have since attracted comments from the Kenya Young Parliamentary Association which condemned the planned arrest of defaulters asking the government not to penalize them as most of them were yet to secure employment.
In solidarity with students, the Youth Congress has come out to ask CS Amina Mohamed to apologize over her remarks.