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Student loan opportunities opened for individuals with disabilities

Malika Shahid
02 March 2024, MVT 14:31
Minister of Higher Education Dr Mariyam Mariya and Ministers of state during a press conference held on Thursday. -- Photo: Ministry of Higher Education
Malika Shahid
02 March 2024, MVT 14:31

The Ministry of Higher Education said that 500 student loan slots were opened for individuals to pursue higher education in the Maldives and abroad, with special slots allocated for individuals with disabilities, on Thursday, February 29.

Speaking at a press conference held on Thursday, Minister of Higher Education, Dr Mariyam Mariya, stated that the government has outlined a five-year plan to develop expertise in fields essential for the Maldives.

The Minister said that the 500 loans opportunities were part of this scheme. Under this program, educational opportunities from diploma to Ph.D. studies were included.

Minister Dr Mariyam said that special priority has been given to students with disabilities seeking higher education.

In the past, student loans were also provided to individuals with disabilities; however, it did not cover additional expenses beyond the loan amount.

"This loan scheme offers special opportunities for students with disabilities. It is a highly inclusive opportunity," she stated.

The Minister said that the most significant challenge for individuals with special needs pursuing higher education is that the expenses covered under the loan are not tailored to address their specific disabilities.

"The government has decided to consider the disabilities of each student with special needs and offer additional coverage to facilitate the completion of the [education] program in case they require extra assistance," the Minister added.

The Minister explained that the main reason for the government's decision to provide additional coverage to such students was to ensure that they are not hindered in completing their studies.

State Minister for Higher Education Ahmed Shafeeu said that previous student loans provided to individuals with special needs revealed that despite the loan opportunity, students still incurred additional expenses.

"For example, some students require a special aid, or special arrangements have to be made for them. Previously, it was determined that these students would receive the loan on the same basis as other students," he said.

Highlighting that despite gaining access to higher education, students with special needs encounter challenges in utilizing the loan. Shafeeu said that this time the decision to disburse the loan was made after considering the disability of each student.

"If we are unaware of the student's disability in advance, we won't know what assistance we can provide. The loan is also merit based, but we have special opportunities for these students," he said.

He said that the Ministry is collaborating with the Ministry of Social and Family Development to decide how many slots should be allocated for individuals with special needs from the 500 student loans.

The loan application process has also been announced, and applications can be submitted until March 21, as per the Ministry of Higher Education.

After the submission of the loan application, the Ministry will review it, and if any corrections are required, individuals will be notified and provided with an opportunity to make the necessary adjustments. The deadline for second round applications is April 25.