The House of Representatives has restated the need for the establishment of a Nigerian Education Bank to issue interest-free loans to students of tertiary institutions in the country.
The students loan (Access to Higher Education Bill 2016), which the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, sponsored in the Eighth National Assembly, was reintroduced and passed for first reading by the House in July 2019.
The legislation is entitled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Provide Easy Access to Higher Education for Nigerians through Interest-Free Loans. Nigerian Education Bank Established in this Act with a View to Providing Education for All Nigerians.’
Gbajabiamila said, “The hardship currently being faced by the unemployed and low income earners, coupled with very high cost of living in Nigeria over the years, has made access to quality higher education difficult.
“A well-educated citizenry is critical to our national development and our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy. Higher education should be regarded as a public good benefiting the entire country rather than a commodity solely benefiting the individual recipients.”
The bill states that the provision of the proposed law shall apply to all matters pertaining to the application and grant of loans to Nigerians seeking admission into institutions of higher learning in Nigeria through the Nigerian Education Bank.
The bill further reads, “The loan referred to in this Act shall be granted to students only for the payment of tuition fees. The granting of the loan to any student under this Act shall be subject to the student(s)/applicant(s) satisfying the requirements and conditions set out under this Act.”
The bank is also expected to issue a quarterly report to the President on the performance of the students’ loan.