Government cracks the whip on tertiary education sponsorship defaulters

Government plans to track employees to their work place

SESUPO RANTSIMAKO

Orange

FRANCISTOWN: Concerned by the failure of tertiary education sponsorship beneficiaries to repay their loans and bursaries, the government has come up with an intervention to track them to their places of work.

With the plan, the Ministry of Tertiary Education Research, Science and Technology has provided all government Heads of department with data collection form in order to track the beneficiaries of tertiary education sponsorship  who are defaulting on their loans and bursaries. The data collection is meant to document all details of the employees who benefited from the government sponsorship.

The letter written by the Department of Tertiary Financing Director Tumisani Baleki to Heads of government Department states that the bursaries and grant scheme beneficiaries have not been forthcoming hence making it difficult for the government to locate and remind them about loan repayments.

“The government of Botswana has since 1973 been sponsoring Batswana students for tertiary education studies. The first scheme was called the five percent bursary scheme and later in 1995 the new scheme was introduced which was called loan/grant. Beneficiaries of both schemes signed a Memorandum of Agreement which stipulated that on completion of studies and upon attainment of employment they must inform their sponsor, Department of Tertiary Education Financing of their whereabouts. The department needs this information so as to remind them to honor their obligation of repaying their student loans. The beneficiaries of these schemes have not been forthcoming hence making it difficult for government to locate them and collect loan repayments. We request that you assist our office in making available your employees list to enable us to contact them and remind them of their unpaid student loans,” reads part of the letter.

This is not the first time government tries to track defaulters. In 2008 they promised that plans for recovering the loans had been made and would start in earnest. The plan included outsourcing the service to private companies that would trace and collect loan payments from beneficiaries. At one point the government threatened to engage security agents to track defaulters.

Efforts to talk to the Minister responsible for Tertiary Education Ngaka Ngaka were futile as his mobile phone was unreachable. His Assistant’s phone Fidelis Molao also rang unanswered.