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Nigerian president directs expansion of student-loan scheme to include skill development

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Tinubu

ABUJA, NIGERIA | Xinhua | Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has directed the management of the Nigeria Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) to expand its focus area by extending interest-free loans to local students interested in skill-development programs.

Tinubu gave the directive at the State House on Monday, saying it is important for the scheme to accommodate those who may not want to pursue university education.

He explained that skill acquisition is “as important as obtaining undergraduate and graduate academic qualifications,” emphasizing the importance of equipping young Nigerians with practical skills that are essential for success in today’s dynamic workforce.

The decision to extend the student loan scheme to cover skill development reflects the government’s commitment to addressing the evolving needs of the country’s youth and ensuring they are adequately prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

“This is not an exclusive program. It is catering to all of our young people. Young Nigerians are gifted in different areas. This is not only for those who want to be doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It is also for those who aspire to use their skilled and trained hands to build our nation,” the president said, adding that “not everybody wants to go through a full university education.”

Under the expanded program, eligible students pursuing vocational training, technical courses, and other skill-focused programs will have access to financial assistance through the student loan scheme. This move is expected to broaden the scope of educational support beyond traditional university degrees, recognizing the diverse paths to success that exist in today’s professional landscape, local analysts said.

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The Nigerian leader emphasized the need for equity and inclusivity in the management of the program, explaining that no matter the economic challenges of the youth, accredited and qualified students will, and must have access, to the loan to advance their education in higher institutions.

Akintunde Sawyerr, the executive secretary of NELFUND, told the media in Abuja that the loan application process would be technology-driven, limiting human interface and “eliminating any possibility of maladministration in the program.” ■

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