Fuel prices were increased by a record-breaking KES 7.1 per liter this week, but that does not bother Moi University comrades as they deal with a more pressing issue.
As the economy is tumbling in the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdown and in the face of the looming BBI referendum, many things seem to be going wrong in the country. However, we will focus on one thing that troubles university students across the country right now.
Moi University students have protested and revealed that their rightful HELB loan has been delayed with serious repercussions on their wallets and drawers.
The frustrated Eldoret students have gone to the social media to display images of their food cabinets which are running empty. You can only see one onion, one tomato, and a packet half-full of salt; an indication of how broke the students have become.
They have now gone to the streets without face masks, displaying how dire the situation is inside.
As one of the picketers said, learning is difficult when the student is starving. But that is not the biggest issue at hand right now – some students are unable to pay their school fees and they risk being blocked from sitting for their examinations.
Students’ HELB loan was scheduled to be released by January, but so far nothing has been deposited to students’ accounts. The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) addressed the issue of delayed HELB loan on Wednesday and blamed the Treasury for the delay.
Well, this is a country of blame games. Everyone is always saying it is not me, ask so and so. This time it is Treasury on the receiving end for failing to release Comrades’ money on time.
HELB Chief Executive Officer Charles Ringera said, “We are all waiting for funding from the National Treasury, for now, we do not have funds to release to students.” As they wait, the stomachs of restless teenagers are becoming impatient, so are nagging faculty members who constantly remind the students of delayed assignments.
As you would always expect, HELB has also blamed loan defaulters for failing to pay their loans and interests. In a year when thousands of HELB beneficiaries have been laid down due to COVID-19, defaulters are expected to increase, and the amount going to HELB are decreasing.
Although it is evidently prudent for loanees to pay their loans, the economy is becoming too prohibitive for them to perform their obligations.
As the situation worsens, comrades at Moi University face another challenge after the school administration banned cooking inside the school hostels in 2019. Now they face double trouble. Buying food from outside vendors is expensive, and HELB hasn’t come through….
Big challenge lays ahead as we await HELB to dispatch the money. For now, we encourage University students to be creative and use their skills to find income-generating activities rather than using their energies on the streets.
When things get tough, the tough keep going. If you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails.