KAMPALA – Makerere University and Stanbic Bank Uganda have unveiled to students’ community a new financing scheme aimed at supporting blended learning by enabling staff and students acquire laptops on hire purchase basis.
The much sought-after scheme was launched Thursday March 10 at Makerere University Main Campus in Kampala and according to Stanbic Bank Uganda Chief Executive Anne Juuko, the arrangement will provide student financing for the purchase of laptops to enable learners carry out their research projects and other assignments.
In her remarks, Ms. Juuko said the pandemic has changed the way learning is delivered to students and “we must adjust to this new normal.”
During lockdown, she said, universities resorted to online teaching, but students didn’t have laptops to partake in digital classes—through this scheme, Stanbic Bank is providing a future readiness solution.
Ms. Juuko added that the scheme is part of the partnership recently signed between the bank and the university and will see Stanbic Bank Uganda support Makerere University to deliver on its mandate, better.
Ms. Juuko shared that it was therefore a duty of employers such as Stanbic to partner with institutions like Makerere to produce graduates that are employable.
“I can tell you now that if you are not digitally savvy, you cannot be employed, that is the gold standard that has been set by the market.”
She added the arrangement was part of Stanbic’s pioneering spirit of recognising the challenge and desiring to be part of the solution. She noted that although the Bank had chosen to start with Makerere, they intended to rollout the scheme to the rest of the country.
“This initiative is also one way of walking the talk of our business purpose—Uganda is home, we drive her growth. When education services reopened after two years of inactivity, Stanbic was the only bank that waived all unpaid accumulated interest on loans owed by schools, up to December 2021; we shall continue to play this corporate leadership role,” she said.
Mr. Sam Mwogeza, the Executive Head, Consumer and High Net Worth products at Stanbic Bank Uganda explained that students seeking to acquire financing for new laptops will have to do so through their parents or guardians by filling out a form obtainable at any Stanbic Bank branch across the country.
“We know that students don’t have steady incomes and parents are also recovering from the impact of the pandemic—the scheme is therefore designed to help parents with a steady source of revenue to apply and access the laptop financing on behalf of their learners,” said Mwogeza.
Mwogeza added that the scheme will be managed through FlexiPay—an all-in-one digital solution that allows customers who have downloaded the application, to make charge free payments efficiently with real time reconciliation and easy tracking.
“With the most affordable laptop priced at UGX2.1 million, one can now access a loan and pay UGX58,000 in monthly installments over a three-year period. Parents are allowed to do early repayment of the loan without being charged,” said Mwogeza.
Parents who are Stanbic Bank customers simply have to apply for an unsecured loan of up to UGX5million and once approved, the details of the student are sent to the contracted vendor who then delivers the laptop to the beneficiary.
To circumvent risks such as theft and damage, the bank will have all laptops purchased under the scheme, fully insured.
The Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe emphasised that online learning is not about COVID-19, but is the future of humanity especially as the trend in the global trend in service provision increasingly leans towards digital. He therefore cautioned that, “we in Africa must not risk being left behind again and become victims of the digital divide.”
Prof. Nawangwe paid tribute to Stanbic for being a longstanding partner of Makerere and willingly agreeing to support the acquisition of laptops by students eager to embrace digital learning.
“If our students cannot do digital learning, then who is going to push our country into the digital era?” pondered the Vice Chancellor, before adding “On this note, let us be serious as a country and support digital learning because that is the future.”
He said Makerere has a population of 35, 000 students with potential to take advantage of this offering.
He urged the student leadership to sensitize the student community to take advantage of this unique offering.
“With the computer and with data, you are truly a global citizen, you can attend classes from any university,” Nawangwe said.
He said, Africa is on the move, mainly because of the large number of young and brilliant people.
“You are the cream of Africa because you are in the top University; the future of Africa is in your hands,” he said.
He added, “The world is moving and we are moving in what is called the information/digital era. You are either digital or stone age. We are not going to allow you to remain behind because we do not want Africa doomed. That is why I’m very happy with Stanbic Bank and especially the CEO for your vibrancy in addressing the issues that affect our country; this initiative that you have taken will ensure that the education system comes to life.”
The Vice Chancellor also reminded the students community that the University had, in a bit to make digital learning affordable, since the COVID-19 lockdown, made arrangements with MTN and Airtel to zero-rate Makerere‘s online platforms.
This is in addition to talks with the University’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) RENU to grant similar access to other platforms such as Zoom, a development he says will facilitate digital learning.
“Through the Research and Education Network of Uganda-RENU, we have managed to zero-rate an open source platform – Big Blue Button, which is integrated with our Learning Management System. We are also looking at zero-rating Zoom – a commercial application, through RENU” supplemented Mr. Simon Mugabi, the Director ICT Support (DICTS).
The University’s Guild President, Shamim Nambassa, said, when the University was closed due to COVID-19, they kept asking themselves about the whereabouts of a laptop bank, but little did “we know that Stanbic Bank would bring us the laptop bank.”
Nambassa said, “Stanbic Bank, you have given the education system meaning with this offering. “It is now time to say that we the students are the cream of Africa in line with Makerere University’s 100 years’ celebration theme of building a transformed society.”