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Editorial: It’S A Loan – You Have To Pay It Back

THERE will predictably be outrage from civil servants over just 12 words spoken yesterday by the Minister of Education, Jeffrey Lloyd.

“We are going to seek the ways to have their salaries garnished,” said the minister as he faced, once again, the dilemma over what to do about the delinquent bills from loans given out by the Education Loan Authority.

The problem is simple – the solution less so. People have borrowed money from the loan authority and not paid it back.

There is a default rate of more than nine in ten of the loans, and the whole programme has been suspended for a decade.

Simply put, without people paying money back into the pot, there’s none left to loan out for the next generation of students.

The ministry has tried incentives – as Mr Lloyd said yesterday, “If you come in I think we knock off almost 40 percent, no interest. So if you owe $10 you only have to pay $6 and they still wouldn’t come.”

And so the administration is considering taking the debt – from loans that the individual agreed to – out of their wages if they work for government.

It is entirely possible this will add to the simmering summer of discontent the government is facing with various complaints from different unions – but on this issue, it’s hard to see what else the government can do.

It has given people time to repay the loans, it has offered incentives and discounts – but quite simply there has been no indication from people that they will pay what they owe.

Some of the defaulters refuse to even talk about it, snubbing settlement discussions completely.

For those who owe some money, this might be the last chance to take advantage of those discounts. That’s the carrot – the garnishing of wages is the stick the government will wave if need be.

So if there is dissent, if there are complaints, it is hard to have too much sympathy – after all, these defaulters are stopping that money from going to help young Bahamians from pursuing their own dreams of becoming a student.

It’s time to pay up.

Stop spreading the hurt

SOCIAL media can be a wonderful thing. It can improve communication, spread the word about our success – but it can also be abused, and then it can be a terrible thing.

On too many occasions, videos are circulated of young people in compromising positions.

One video recently showed a student pulling up her underwear behind a building as she stood next to an older man, and the voice of another man could be heard claiming she had just been caught having sex and then pressuring her to have sex with him.

The girl involved was so upset by the situation that she nearly had to seek help at Sandilands Rehabilitiation Centre, said Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd yesterday.

Another instance saw a picture posted to social media of a child’s bruised buttocks by a parent claiming he was disciplined by a school official at St Augustine’s College.

Mr Lloyd has suggested bringing in new laws to protect minors from having their life, reputation, identity or character exposed to public contempt.

That can be a difficult area to legislate – but one thing is clear, there should be no need for children to carry around the burden of embarrassment for years over things that happen during their youth that get exposed to the public.

Every time you see such a video, think. Think about what it might mean to the child. Think what it might mean to their future. Before you share it, consider how you would feel if that were your own child.

Know that if you do share it, then you spread the hurt.

Our children’s futures are our nation’s future – don’t stifle them before they’ve had a chance to start.

The law only needs to get involved if we fail to recognise for ourselves what is right and what is wrong.

If we as a people cannot recognise it is wrong to humiliate children in public, then we do not deserve to claim to be a Christian nation.

Do the right thing.

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