MPs are siding with students on the threat of naming and shaming of HELB defaulters.
A section of legislators drawn from the Young Parliamentarians Association have faulted the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) on its intention to name and shame loan defaulters if they fail to clear them by December 18.
Speaking in parliament, legislators drawn from across the political divide termed the proposal as criminalizing unemployment and punishment to thousands of unemployed youth in the country.
In an advertisement in the local dailies Tuesday which went viral on social media, the loans board threatened to name and shame the defaulters whose balances date back from 1975.
It also threatened legal action against the individuals if they fail to comply with the directive.
“Please take note that names and photos of loan beneficiaries who have defaulted repayment of the loans from 1975 will be published in the leading newspapers after expiry of 30 days from the date of this notice and thereafter legal action may ensue against each defaulter as stipulated in the HELB act,” the notice reads in part.
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino termed the move as ‘ill-advised’ citing rising youth unemployment and that publishing names and photos would be a breach of privacy and would tarnish the image of the defaulters.
“We want to call on the president of this country to waive and write off the HELB loans for the comrades. The president wrote off loans for Kenya Airways, Mumias Sugar, Coffee farmers and tea farmers why not the loans for the students yet they are the major stakeholders of the economy,” he said.
Kimili MP Didmus Baraza challenged HELB to find alternative mechanisms on how they can retrieve the monies accrued by the defaulters instead of issuing threats.
“It is the responsibility of the state to educate the youth and find meaningful employment for her citizens. We are going to put every step necessary in place to ensure that we quash that decision of the loans board. We must look for alternative ways to get this money so that we either pay on their behalf or we get them employment so that they pay the loans themselves,” he said.
HELB is a state corporation that was started in July 1995 through an Act of parliament and its mandate is to provide loans, bursaries and scholarships to Kenyan students pursuing higher education.
According to HELB, it has disbursed over Sh92B to over 837,965 students and it has a total of 61,038 loanees holding Sh6.1B who are in default as at 30th June 2019.
This article was first published by Capital News.