Categorized | Featured, National News

$280 Million for Education

Jeff Lloyd

One of theJeff Lloyd nation’s largest ministries has been earmarked a budget of some $280 million, 60 per cent of which will go to personal emoluments and according to Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd, like many
other ministries, a cleanup must be done as a number of recent hires seemed to have happened not long before the May 10 general election.

During his contribution to the 2017/2018 Budget Communication debate in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr. Lloyd said since 2013, some 985 contract workers were added to the payroll, a third of them very recent.

“Three hundred and eleven were hired in the six months immediately preceding the May 10 general election. What is disturbing about this, Mr. Speaker, is that these new hires did not submit, or were not required to submit, to the ordinary hiring process of the Public Service,” he said.

“As a consequence, Mr. Speaker, these persons appear on the Min
istry of Education’s (MOE) pay sheet, but not on the Public Service pay sheet, creating serious challenges as far as budget, expectations, etc goes.”

The minister added that if this was not bad enough, there were also contract workers doing jobs that could very well be done by persons who were already employed.

Another sore point is the state of The Bahamas Loan Scholorship Program, as since its inception back in 2001, 4,700 student loans have been issued in 26 disciplines.

However, as it stands, Mr. Lloyd said the default rate stands at 75 per cent leaving the government out of pocket well over $100 million which he says creates a serious shortfall.

“We are owed $156 million buckaroos. That goes back to when it was established in 2001 then the Bank of The Bahamas dropped out of it and as August of 2009, due to extremely high defaulted rate, the scene was discontinued,” he said.

“I know the reluctance that governments have had, going after students who have failed to pay the loans back. I understand that, but if you owe the government money and we have to come and get you, grief is your fate.”

Aside from the money, there are also serious challenges with scholarship programs in the country.

“There are too few applications from public school students and students from the Family Islands. The fact remains that there are never enough scholarships for all that apply – never enough for those who are deserving.  This scholarship cycle alone, the division has received over 3,000 applications for roughly 500 scholarship awards,” he said.

“I will advise the scholarship selection committee, when appointed, to be very deliberate in their deliberations.”
The education minister said much emphasis must also be placed on encouraging young Bahamians to attend The University of The Bahamas.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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