KOCHI: The Covid-19 pandemic has left everyone worried, especially students who have taken education loans. Many of the students come from financially backward communities and they have been hoping to clear the loans once they get jobs, especially in Gulf countries. “I completed my BTech course in Civil Engineering and have been looking forward to a job in the Gulf. I had even landed one, but bad luck came in the form of Covid-19 and swept away the offer,” said Harikrishnan R, who studied in an engineering college in Tamil Nadu.
“My father was at that time working in the Gulf. Of course not in some big fancy company. He was a labourer,” he said. According to him, the plan was to clear the loan once he got a job. “But all that has fallen flat. After suffering a heart attack, my father had to come back home. He can’t go to work anymore.” he said.
Now, Harikrishnan’s sister too is doing Engineering. “But we have decided against taking a bank loan. I am doing odd jobs to meet the financial needs of my family. I have come to know that there is a freeze in placements in the Gulf,” said Harikrishnan. “If only the government would issue a moratorium on education loans for a year, it would have been very helpful for us,” he said.
According to Rejool Bin Basheer, another engineering graduate, times are tough. “Without any means of earning a livelihood, we have no idea how we are going to pay the loans that we took from the bank. We are not saying that we will not pay back the amount,” said Rejool. “All we want is some time,” he added. Even the nursing students have tales of woes to tell when it comes to education loans. “I am a BSc Nursing graduate,” said Athira Mohan.
“I had taken Rs 2.50 lakh as education loan banking on the belief that once I get a job abroad I will be able to pay back the entire amount. But all that hope is lost due to Coronavirus pandemic,” she said. Today, to help out her father, she has joined a private hospital for a very low salary. According to Poly Thomas, president, Educational Loanees Association, the association has requested the state government to implement a moratorium on repayment of loans for a year.
“Even though at present, those having no dues have been given three months time to repay, they will be unable to repay the amount plus the interest at a go,” he said. He said, “Even if the students decide to use the three months moratorium, the banks make them run around,” added Poly. According to him, until now the parents, most of them daily wage labourers, have been repaying the amount. “But now with the lockdown in place, they don’t have any jobs and hence are unable to find money for repayment of loans,” he added.