The Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Friday said the Students’ Loan Application system was being designed in a way that there is no interface between the loan administrators and the beneficiaries.
Gbajabiamila reiterated that efforts were underway to ensure the take-off of the scheme in January 2024 to ensure that Nigerian students could access the loan “to fund their educational aspirations.”
He spoke in Lagos on Friday while delivering the lecture titled, “Empowering Nigerian Youths in the Present Day Economy” at the 35th convocation ceremony of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH).
It would be recalled that President Bola Tinubu, shortly after assuming office, signed the Students’ Loan Act into law to create a new legal framework to provide education financing through interest-free loans to students.
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Gbajabiamila said that to make the process seamless, “applicants will apply online, be verified online and credited based on the verifiable documents and credentials they submitted.”
He said, “Nobody will need to know anybody to qualify for these loans so that access to this financing will be genuinely egalitarian. The student loan system answers part of the question of how to fund a quality public tertiary education but doesn’t answer all of it.
“Any serious conversation about the future of tertiary education in Nigeria must include a thorough consideration of the ways and means of addressing the funding needs of public tertiary institutions beyond government subvention.
“In this regard, we cannot for much longer avoid the simple truth that tertiary education costs money, and the best institutions worldwide succeed, amongst other things, because they can generate significant sums through fees, investments and other means.
“The simple truth is that for our institutions to compete favourably, we need more resources than are currently available to address the dangerous decline in the quality of scholarship and academic output and the graduates we produce from many of our institutions.”
The former House of Representatives Speaker stated that the 21st century education has gone beyond skills acquisition and specialisation “but disruption and reinvention.”
To achieve the purpose of disruption and reinvention, he said there must be a review of the curricula and teaching methods “to situate our practices in the context of global labour needs.”
Gbajabiamila said, “We require a programme of aggressive and sustained investment in education. Not only in the physical infrastructure of classrooms and lecture halls but in technology hardware and software to facilitate information exchange and innovation.
“In this new world we have found ourselves in, nothing has changed as drastically as the nature of work and how we measure productivity. Today, many skills that guaranteed employment and a healthy income for previous generations have been made redundant by technological advances.
“This generation will not only be competing with one another for opportunities, but they will also be competing in a global marketplace, against students from all over the world, and against technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, blockchain and financial technology tools that are increasingly replacing human function in the workplace. We must prepare them with these realities in mind.
“To do this effectively, we need to develop a new understanding of the changing nature of work and the future of employment. The limits of our knowledge hinder us from effectively addressing the challenges of this new age and adapting to the changing realities we cannot escape. Collaboration between our higher institutions and the organised private sector is vital to carry out the essential work of engagement, research and review required to bridge the gaps in our knowledge.
“We need to do this as a necessary precursor to focusing national attention on these issues so that we can jointly rise to the demands of the moment. This is an objective that we cannot, for the sake of our future, leave to the government alone to pursue.”
Rector of the College, Dr. Ibraheem Abdul has focused on youth empowerment through its various programmes.
“Furthermore, to show how committed we are to the empowering of our youths, the management established an Industry Advisory Committee to enhance her dynamic role of producing technical manpower for the Economic and Social development of Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, when it comes to manpower development, technological advancement and youth empowerment, the college has been at the forefront.
Some of the initiatives targeted at youth empowerment put in place by the school as highlighted by the Rector include the Quadruple Helix Collaboration Scheme for Youth Empowerment; The establishment of a Centre for Technology Marketing and Product Development; The YCT Industry Alliance Group (YIAG) Program; the Students Work and Study Scheme, among others.