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Nigerian Senate Approves Student Loan Act 2024 to Enhance Higher Education Access

Nigerian Senate Approves Student Loan Act 2024 to Enhance Higher Education Access

The Senate has passed the Student Loans Access to Higher Education Act for the year 2024. This decision was made after reviewing a report presented by Senator Mohammed Muntari, who represents Katsina South and chairs the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

Last week, the bill went through its second reading after President Bola Tinubu sent a letter urging both the Senate and the House of Representatives to repeal the existing Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Bill and introduce a new one.

The new act aims to improve the implementation of the Higher Education Student Loan Scheme by addressing issues such as the management of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELF), eligibility criteria for applicants, loan purposes, funding sources, and procedures for disbursement and repayment.

Tinubu’s request followed the temporary suspension of the student loan system, which was meant to provide Nigerian students in tertiary institutions with access to low-interest loans to support their studies.

In addition to passing the Student Loans Act, the Senate also debated a motion sponsored by Senator Adebule Oluranti from Lagos West. This motion focused on the urgent need to address the issue of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

During the debate, Senator Oluranti emphasized the necessity of significantly reducing the alarming number of out-of-school children, estimated at 20 million according to UNESCO statistics.

Other lawmakers, including Senator Oshiomhole, urged the Senate to compel relevant agencies to disclose the percentage of out-of-school children in each state. This would help identify defaulting state governments that have neglected their responsibility to prioritize education, thereby endangering the welfare of citizens.

In response to these concerns, the Senate passed a resolution directing the judiciary in all 36 states to establish mobile courts for the enforcement of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act.

Furthermore, the Senate mandated its education committee to collaborate with the Ministry of Education to develop strategies for reducing the number of out-of-school children. They set a two-year deadline for the implementation of the UBE Act, underscoring the importance of ensuring access to education for all Nigerian children.

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