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Let’s do the right thing

IF your tertiary education was funded by the Lesotho government and you have not repaid the loan then you better be worried.
The National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) will soon hire debt collectors to chase every cent it is owed in educational loans.
The process of hiring those debt collectors started this week and in a few months they will be tracing debtors in Lesotho, South Africa, and the rest of the world.
This is a step in the right direction.
We can only say this process was long overdue.
There are thousands of Basotho who owe the government millions in educational loans but have not bothered to pay back.
Some are holed up in South Africa, hoping that their misdeeds will not catch up with them.
There are those fate has placed overseas and they think they are too far to be caught.
Some are still in Lesotho but they hope the net will miss them.
The NMDS’ incompetence has, in part, created this cavalier attitude towards servicing those loans.
The department has never really shown any commitment or will to chase those debts.
The result has been that year after year the government has pumped out millions to educate people who never bother to repay the loans.
The department focused more on dishing out the
money but showed less zeal when it came to collecting those debts.
This was a grave mistake that we always knew was going to come back to haunt us sooner rather than later.
And now we are paying for that mistake.
This year the government slashed the number of tertiary students it sponsors.
There are currently many deserving students who have failed to get scholarships.
The future looks bleak because as the economic crisis continues to hit the government’s revenues there will be more cuts on educational expenditure.
Already the Southern African Customs Union which used to fund 65 percent of Lesotho’s budget is running dry.
Traditional donor countries, our erstwhile providers, are now too busy dealing with their own economic woes to worry about Lesotho’s problems.
Our problems as a country have multiplied while the size of our purse has dramatically shrunk.
We now have more problems than our financial means as a country can solve.
All these mean that there is just not enough money for the educational sector, hence the cut in scholarships.
Yet these cuts would not have been too painful if the NMDS had ensured that those sponsored by the government serviced their loans.
If the educational grant system had been run as a revolving fund — exactly what it should be — then
the government would not have resorted to desperate austerity measures like slashing the number of students it sponsors.
That is why it is essential that those who benefited from the scholarships start repaying their loans.
It is urgent.
It is the right thing to do: those who were educated at the government’s expense must repay their loans so that more Basotho can be educated.
The NMDS and the government are merely asking such people to keep their end of the bargain.
Unless those who owe are forced to settle their debts the number of people the government is able to sponsor will become smaller and smaller.
There is a real danger that Lesotho might not be able to educate future generations.
That is why we urge the NMDS to intensify its debt collection.
In the same vein we implore those who owe to start repaying their loans.
It is for the good of this country.

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