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EDUCATION PS, AMB. SIMON NABUKWESI, SPEECH DURING THE HELB-UNIVERSITIES CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON 11TH MARCH 2021, MOMBASA

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EDUCATION PS, AMB. SIMON NABUKWESI, SPEECH DURING THE HELB-UNIVERSITIES CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON 11TH MARCH 2021, MOMBASA

Chairman, HELB Board Directors                                                                                                           

CEO, HELB                                                                                                         

University Administrators & Student Leaders

Invited Guests,                                

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is with great pleasure that we are here today to participate in this very important Universities Consultative Forum.

We are committed to build a sound partnership for and with the youth who are already in the business of changing the world.  This is predicated on building resources and networks to support the youth and help them realize their dreams.  We all have a generational opportunity to reimagine education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We have made a strong start with universities and colleges developing modern, training programmes, relevant curricula and skills and innovative education.  And while we are all aware that the COVID-19 vaccine is in the country, we should appreciate that online classes in our universities will remain relevant and the next frontier when it comes to learning.

Public, private and civil society sector partners, and United Nations agencies are coming together with the youth to scale up initiatives and innovations, creating greater impact.  This will help the youth on creating employment channels. This

is about exploring ways to take this work to the next level. We have 9 years left to achieve the Vision 2030 and so, we have no time to lose. We therefore need to strengthen links across sectors and rally investment for the ambitious goal of connecting a respectable student population to opportunities. We need intensive commitment of financial and political resources by both private and public institutions and for the private sector to invest in shared-value partnerships and foundations to provide catalytic funding.

In all these efforts, I urge all stakeholders herein to play their full part, through technology, know-how, leadership or finance, so that every school and community is connected to the Internet, and every young person has access to education, training and opportunities to fulfil their potential.  I welcome all the young leaders and change-makers joining our conversation today and look forward to hearing their views.  I particularly encourage our youth and persons living with disability to speak up, innovate as the future of our country rests on you.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I note that since inception, HELB has empowered dreams of more than 1,065,200 students and disbursed over Kshs.115.8B. As of 31st January 2021, there were 563,293 mature loan accounts worth Kshs.69.33B while 501,907 loanees holding Kshs.46.464B had not matured for repayment. As of 31st January 2021, there were 563,293 mature loan accounts holding Kshs.69.33B. Out of these mature loans, 220,944 accounts holding Kshs.34.9B are repaying their loans while a total of 101,312 loanees holding Kshs.9.9B are in default. A total of 241,037 loanees holding Kshs.24.54B have completed repayment of their loans. I would wish to take this opportunity to commend HELB for the good work they continue to do in recovering loans from past beneficiaries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the National Education Sector Strategic Plan [NESSP] 2018-2022, access to University Education by All Eligible Students is a policy priority under the University Sub Sector. The goal being to expand access and participation in higher education.

The HELB 2019-2023 Strategic Plan costed at a total of Kshs. 90.7B over the 5 years, is therefore well aligned to the NESSP. During the Strategic Plan period HELB has planned progressively increase the average loan allocated to student per year by 5% thus increasing the student budget by 15% per year so as to progressively achieve universal funding by financing all applicants with adequate amount to cater for the rising cost of living and increasing college fees as the institutions continue to gradually implement the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) model of financing. However, Government alone cannot shoulder this heavy financial load on its own. I call upon the HELB to improve loan recovery strategies to enhance their contribution towards this Kshs. 90.7B. On the same breadth let me call upon other funding partners particularly Corporates [such as the banks who have sponsored this forum], Counties/Constituencies and development partners to partner with HELB and help in financing the Ksh. 90.7B budget of this plan. Where there are legal and policy changes required to enhance loan recovery and resource mobilization, the Ministry will create a conducive policy environment to facilitate any legal framework reviews.

As HELB continues to disburse loans to Kenyans enrolled in institutions of higher learning, I would urge all higher education institutions to embrace Smart Payment Solutions such as the recently launched HELB – Safaricom Smart Payment Solution. Banks are also reminded to streamline the efficiency of the smart card solution. These solutions will ensure that our students and Higher Learning Institutions are accountable for the funding they receive from HELB more efficiently and accurately. Accountability of public resources continues to be a key requirement in application of public resources. As Public Officers we must utilize public resources observing good stewardship and high integrity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Science, Technology and Innovation is identified as a key foundation upon which the economic, social and political pillars of the Kenya Vision 2030 are anchored.

Universities are critical components of innovation systems. The establishment of strong innovation systems allows countries to assimilate and adapt global knowledge for local needs and to create new knowledge. Countries that have strong innovation systems have excellent performance in university Science Technology and Innovation programmes. New global indicator for development has been tied to investment in Science Technology and Innovation by a country. For example, newly industrialized countries like South Korea, China, India, and Brazil have invested heavily in Science and Technology and Innovation education.

There are various systems required in an innovation driven economy. One of these includes the identification of platform technologies. At the same time, there is need to focus on some of the fastest growing areas of enterprise such as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), service industries, financial and monetary services, education, eco-tourism and human health to name but a few. Fast growth and necessary reforms will require new products and processes in these areas. Key strategies to enhance the Science, Technology and Innovations as an agenda should also focus on scientific and technological empowerment and the financial facilitation of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Other areas include software and hardware industries and services that are required as ICT penetration in business, government, and households increase in Kenya and Africa. The software services industry is also a huge global industry that presents an opportunity for Kenya. The country needs to focus more on strategic technological areas that have impact on the economy and households. Universities are called upon to be forerunners in this. There is need to create a culture of knowledge generation, adaptation, application and innovation in our universities. Accordingly, there is need for universities to do a thorough analysis on and identify strong points and areas that require improvement on matters Science, Technology and Innovation. Science, Technology and Innovation

Governance ought to be improved at all levels, innovation systems must be enhanced. With all these, heavy investment in Science Technology and Innovation must be undertaken.  Resources are not limitless, however, with whatever may be available, Science, Technology and Innovation must always find its reasonable space within our universities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I close, I wish to remind students on the following and for the student leaders present in this forum to take this message back:

  1. The need to #TellTheTruth when applying for HELB Loan. It is unfortunate when Loan Applications fail the MTI Compliance & Integrity Test primarily because the Parental Occupation & Family Income stated by these applicants is found to be inconsistent with findings of the data validation process. Such students therefore risk being barred from applying for Subsequent HELB Loans. The philosophy behind this is to inculcate a culture of integrity and ownership.
  2. Students are reminded to be careful not to fall prey to conmen and take shortcuts when applying for HELB Loans. The loan application is a free service and is only accessible through official HELB platforms and channels.
  3. Students are further reminded to be financially prudent with the resources provided to them and especially the HELB Loan by using it for the intended purpose as this is a Loan that will be due for repayment after the moratorium period.

With these remarks, I take this opportunity to wish you fruitful deliberations over the course of the two-day forum.

I hereby declare the 2021 Universities Consultative Forum hereby opened.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL

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