Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Mmmust) scholar has invented a computer application App that aims to enhance fair and equitable allocation and disbursement of loans to needy students in institutions of higher learning.
The App invented by Prof Stephen Odebero is tailor-made to help in bringing fairness in the allocation of funds by the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to learners from vulnerable backgrounds.
Prof Odebero is the Director of Post-Graduate Studies at Masinde Muliro University, while his co-innovator Hesbon Amwayi is an IT guru.
“A comparison of HELB loan allocations between the top and bottom quintile allocations showed that those in the top quintile tended to receive more loans than what was deserved, however, those in lower quintiles got less loans than what they merited. If this proposed innovative model is used, this problem will be fixed,” said Prof. Odebero.
The online Computer Application will help the government in the fair allocation of funds to students in its newly launched university funding model where the government has categorized students into four stages, the vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy.
“This is an innovation that is a game changer in financing the higher learning education where every student based on his/her background will be able to get a loan that is equivalent to their needs and economic background, “said Odebero.
For one to use the innovation, the app is uploaded to the play store or Android or any other portal or USD code by service providers.
When applying for loans, the app provides a place where the users key in information about them.
The App then subjects them to an array of questions, including names of the parents, family background and economic status of the family.
The student will then key in his preferred university of choice, whether in rural or urban areas, private or public and the nature of the course to be undertaken.
“Within no minute after the application has been done, it processes the details and gives out information instantly giving out the amount of money the applicant is eligible to get as Helb loan based on the learner’s background assessment,” said Prof Odebero.
However, if the learner would have to key in the information that is contradicting or not true, the app rejects the user’s application to seek funding until he/she provides true information based on NEMIS given by to him/her by Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) during his/her studies in primary and secondary school level.
Additionally, for those who want to apply for admission or enrollment in the university of their choice, after applying, one will be able to know whether he or she can join the university or not.
If they qualify, they will receive communication from the university without necessarily visiting the institution.
A student will be therefore able to print out the admission letter on when to join the university.
The researcher also looks forward to marketing the innovation he started ten years ago as his Post graduate thesis, stating that the intellectual property is already approved and is under the protection of Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI).
“It is hard to hack and feed in false information, the user is given a unique personal identifier (UPI) number which will correlate with what the KNEC has, and there is an administrator who monitors the operation of the account, and if the learner gives false information we will be able to detect, “said Amwayi, the co – innovator.
MMUST Vice-Chancellor Profesor Solomon Shibairo said with the innovation, there is no reason that any child should not go to school based on the new university funding.
“As the university, we can sell it to other people using the model. The innovation actualizes the dream of a new university funding model by the government, especially for needy students,” said Shibairo.
He further urged scholars and researchers to forge powerful collaborations with the business sector to translate research findings into industries to create wealth and jobs.
“This is in tandem with our mandate as a University of Science, Technology, and Innovation. We are keen to foster research output that creates innovations that contribute to socio-economic development,” said Shibairo.