As of 2018, Ghana’s literacy rate stood at 79%, nine percentage points above African average but 11 percentage points behind world average.
Ghana’s gross tertiary enrollment rate, which is the percentage of college age population that is enrolled in tertiary education, is about 20% also ahead of the sub Saharan African average of 9%, but lagging well behind South Korea’s 93%.
In 2017, the government of Ñana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo fulfilled a campaign promise to make basic education free up to senior high school by introducing Free SHS.
Observers at the time complained that why whet the appetite of the poor and leave them only at the secondary school level without the opportunity to continue onto tertiary university. Apparently the government was listening.
Today that financial burden has been lifted with the introduction of the No-Guarantor Student Loan policy initiative. Students with no qualified guarantor for their tertiary student loan of up to GHC3,000 a year can now just slap their Ghana card down along with evidence of tertiary admission to access loans to pay for their tuition.
Launching the policy at a packed auditorium at KNUST’s School of Engineering, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana HE Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia observed that “regions with higher tertiary enrollment tend to be better developed.”
The Vice President further stated that the NPP government believes that every child should be able to go to school from primary to the university without cost being a barrier.
The Minister of Education Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum agreed saying “promises made in Cape Coast by the Vice President in 2020 has been kept today.” Adutwum pointed out that the president’s transformation agenda is all round and the foundation is in education.
In his speech, Head of Student Loans Trust Fund Ñana Agyei Yeboah said “with the removal of the loan requirement, we have put tertiary university education at the fingertips of the least fortunate.”
Agyei Yeboah added that the recovery rate of loans for the Trust has improved during his tenure with the introduction of several repayment options including Diàspora repayment system. Consequently, student loan repayment has improved from 45% to 65%.
The NUGS president of KNUST Dennis Appiah Larbi, after telegraphing his criticism which he claimed as his duty, questioned why the Student Loans Trust Fund continues to face financial challenges despite being the beneficiary of 10% of GETFUND.
Still focusing on critiquing the student loan system, Appiah Larbi asked why interest begins to pile up at second year. He also bemoaned that the maximum GHC3,000 per year is too low and “must be looked at.”
Appiah Larbi concluded his delivery, however, with a surprise gift to the MD of Student Loan Trust Fund Ñana Kwaku Agyei Yeboah – a portrait of himself that the students had drawn up.
DNT will be back with reactions to this monumental policy initiative.