Ghana’s education system is about to witness yet another pragmatic reform that intends to acknowledge the constitutional rights of every child in the country. Education, which remains a vital asset to every individual. especially, n this technological era shouldn’t be discriminatory in any form or function.
It is an incontrovertible fact that interdependence is of higher value than independence. Providing an enabling environment for people to thrive is an interminable approach any government can consider for the sustainable development of a country. This is evident with the “No Guarantor Policy” by the NPP government in concurrence with the Ministry of Education.
The educational sector performance of the NPP government since 1992 stands out buoyantly among all odds with the interventions such as the School Feeding Program, Capitation Grant, free BECE examination fees, the best pro-poor Free SHS Policy, free Technical and Vocational Education, Student Loan Trust Fund, decentralized scholarship scheme, the Nursing and Teacher Training Allowance and many more. All these are geared towards ensuring equal access to quality education by all citizens.
In 2005, H.E John Agyekum Kuffour and the NPP government introduced the Student Loan Trust Fund to help assuage the cost barrier which made it difficult for SHS graduates to access tertiary education in Ghana. The scheme was to disburse subsidized loans to Ghanaian students pursuing accredited programmes in accredited tertiary institutions and recover the same after students have successfully completed their respective programmes.
Initially, in an academic year, students were receiving a minimum and maximum amount of GHC 1000 and GHC 2000 respectively through the Trust Fund. However, in consolidating the Student Loan Trust Fund, the government ahead of the 2016 elections promised to increase the loan amount by 50% and staying committed to its words, it fulfilled it in 2017. Today, the minimum is GHC 1500 and the maximum is GHC 3000.
The commitment of the government can be seen in the records as the amount disbursed annually increased from GHS 28.9million in 2016, compared with GHS 54.67 million in 2017, GHS 78.9 million in 2018 and GHS 75.9million in 2019. In 2020, the figure dropped to GHS 66 million due to the COVID 19 Pandemic.
Therefore, the total loan portfolio increased from GHS198 million in December 2016, to GHS565 million as of November 30, 2021.
That notwithstanding, considering the requirement constraints in accessing this loan facility, the government on page 154 of its 2020 manifesto dubbed “Leadership of Service: Protecting Our Progress, Transforming Ghana For All” committed that, we will make sure no student who has obtained admission to a tertiary institution is denied access because they are unable to pay fees.
We promised to provide all such students, with the exception of teacher and nurse trainees who are paid allowances, an option to obtain a student loan: without the requirement of a guarantor for the loan, provided he or she has a National Identification Number from the GhanaCard, and defer repayment of the loan after National Service plus an additional one-year grace period.
Considering the terms and conditions in applying for the loan, which requires a guarantor who has contributed to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust Scheme for at least 36 months and the target people (the poor), it can be argued that inadvertently most eligible students were finding it difficult to access it.
This alone gives prominence to the No Guarantor Policy being introduced in the SLTF. With this, the government seeks to provide equal opportunity to everyone who wants to have access to higher education.
This policy will afford the Free SHS graduates, especially, those from poor social-economic backgrounds access to higher education. Furthermore, it would also expand access to tertiary education by increasing Ghana’s Tertiary Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) from the current 18.8% to 40% by 2030 as stated by the President in his State of Nation Address.
Now, the Student Loan Trust Fund provides a 2-years grace period after graduation to commence repayment, a Highly subsidized interest rate, a Long repayment period, up to 10 years, a Loan is written off in the event of death or permanent disability and above all, No Guarantor is required.
All that is required is to be a Ghanaian and have a GhanaCard, you must have an E-zwich Card, also an Admission letter from an accredited tertiary institution with an accredited Programme, and submit your application online: www.sltf.gov.gh.
The No Guarantor Policy under the Student Loan Trust Fund is being fulfilled by the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the NPP government in pursuant to our 2020 contract agreement signed with the good people of Ghana to strengthen and help build a robust educational system for this country. We promised and we are delivering.