Loan Trust Fund ready for trainee teachers

BY: Samuel K. Obour

The Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) has declared its readiness to cater for teacher trainees who will access its loans beginning from the 2013-2014 academic year.

Already, the fund is catering for over 20,000 students, made up of continuing students in public and private tertiary institutions and the polytechnics.

The Head of Operations of the SLTF, Mr Kofi Abbew Nkrumah, who made this known to the Daily Graphic yesterday, said the trust fund began putting its house in order following the directive from the government that students in the colleges of education should benefit from its loans.

Accordingly, he said, the SLTF, on August 7, 2013, met with the rectors of the colleges of education, at which it introduced its modalities and how the trainees could join the scheme.

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“Our understanding is that the new beneficiaries will be students entering the colleges of education in the 2013-2014 academic year, not continuing students, so we are prepared,” he said, adding, however, that “the most important thing is to get the funding from the government to be able to disburse to the students”.

In August, the Ministry of Education decided to scrap the payment of allowances to teacher trainees but teacher unions have expressed their reservations about the policy.

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The unions believe that the decision would, among other things, demotivate people from entering the teaching profession.

However, the Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, explained that the government’s decision to scrap allowances for trainees in the colleges of education was to ensure equity and fairness in the educational system.

Mr Nkrumah said the fund was going to meet the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GhIPPS) on how best it could get e-zwich facilities for students in the towns where the 38 colleges of education were located, explaining that  the SLTF paid students through the e-zwich system through the banks.

E-zwich is the brand name for the national switch and smart card payment system. It is a method for improving accessibility to banking and retail services in the country.

Mr Nkrumah explained that the mandate of the fund was to provide loans for tertiary students, and that once students from particular institutions had been directed to access loans from the trust, the entity was under obligation to cater for them.

Asked if the SLTF could also accommodate nurse trainees if they were brought on board, he said once the government decided to scrap the payment of allowances to them, the fund should be able to absorb them, provided funding was available.

On the repayment of loans collected so far, he said repayment was very flexible and going on well.