[h=3]The government may consider restructuring the Higher Education Students Loan Board (HESLB) in a bid to make it operate independently rather than depending solely on funding from the government.[/h] HESLB This comes in the wake of concerns that the Board consumes a huge chunk of funds allocated to the education sector each year, a trend which may compromise quality of education provided at lower levels.It is on this backdrop that the government is looking for alternative sources of funding to run the bursary Board. Appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Dar es Salaam , Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Mr Celestine Gesimba, said the government had commissioned a team of consultants to advise the government on alternative source of funding for the Board. It is not worthy for HESLB to continue operating as it does presently. Transforming the board to enable it raise funds may be considered by the government, Mr Gesimba told members of the parliamentary committee.Going with the trend, the government may fail to continue funding the HESLB. At present we provide loans to less than 300,000 students in 50 higher learning institutions all over the country. The number of students who need loans keeps on increasing each year, and this may be impossible for the government to bear. He said. Mr John Cheyo, (Bariadi East-UDP), who chairs the committee, had expressed concerns that almost 75 per cent of funds allocated to the education sector each year are channeled to the higher education, particularly to the loan Board.There is no point of having the Board if it is not self sustaining. The education sector is generally under-budgeted and worse still, the large chunks of funds to the sector are directed to one area which is the higher education, noted Mr Cheyo. In response, Mr Gesimba said funds allocated for other changes such as purchase of books and inspection of primary and secondary schools have been dwindling over the past four years in favour of funds channeled to the higher education alone. Quality assurance in lower levels thus suffers as a result of inadequate funds. The government is however on other sources of funds to support the education sector, the Acting PS said. HESLB representative Mr Onesmus Laizer said the Board had so far dished out 1.087trn/- to students in higher learning institutions since it became operational seven years ago. Before the Board became operational in 2007, the government had dished out loans worth 51bn/- to students at higher learning institutions, he said, adding that matured debts stand at about 160.7bn/- out of which 20.15bn/- has been refunded as of June 30, this year.