ON THE RUN

Helb seeks 440,000 loan defaulters to pay Sh52.1 billion

In Summary

• In its 2019-23 strategic plan, Helb board says the graduates are reluctant to pay despite their loans having matured for repayment

• Only 150 000 graduates are repaying their Sh 23.6 billion loans.

University of Nairobi students demonstrate over delayed HELB loan in the past. FILE
OUR RIGHTS: University of Nairobi students demonstrate over delayed HELB loan in the past. FILE

At least 440,000 Helb loan defaulters expected to pay Sh52.1 billion are on the run, the higher education loans board has said.

Only 150,000 graduates are repaying their Sh23.6 billion loans, Helb says.

The higher education financier warns that another 390,000 graduates are holding Sh37.2 billion in loans that have not yet matured. 

Helb says it is difficult to track loan defaulters since most are on the run. Others have joined the informal sector or migrated to the diaspora. 

In its 2019-23 strategic plan, Helb promises to execute enhanced recovery strategies.

The board says the new plan will ensure financial suitability, customer service and enhanced funding.

“The amount allocated annually is low compared to a steep rise in the cost of living and the high tuition fees charged by the institutions of higher learning,” the strategic plan signed by chairperson Ekwee Ekuro reads.

Currently, Helb covers 45 per cent of students in higher learning institutions.

“The focus was to create higher education sustainable revolving fund through sophisticated hybrid partnerships with counties, constituencies, scholarship granting organisations, corporates, development partners, individuals and sector-specific funds,” Helb CEO Charles Ringera said.

Early this year, former Education CS Amina Mohamed threatened to prosecute Helb loan defaulters. 

The board said it was operating a balance sheet of Sh71.2 billion as at September 2018. It blamed inflation, poor economic growth and rising domestic unemployment for poor returns.

Currently, the board is paying Sh11.2 billion to 277,000 students annually with the Treasury providing Sh7.44 billion. They say each student should receive  Sh122,000 loan annually instead of the Sh37,000, following the high cost of living.

They want reforms in the education sector and easy access to education.

(Edited by Otieno Owino)