Simon Stiell: It is only fair that they give back

The Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s intends to crack down on persons who are granted scholarships to study overseas but break the bond by not returning home to serve the country.

Speaking Tuesday at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Senator Simon Stiell said that government is taking a look at the bonding policy for Scholarship awardees to ensure that after years of study they return home to give back to the country.

Sen. Stiell disclosed that the Minister of Education, Anthony Boatswain and Attorney General Cajeton Hood have drafted a new bond policy to cover recipients of scholarships awarded through the government.

He said the new bond directives being put together would outline “a very clear policy” for persons granted scholarships and will focus more on Implementation.

“There are requirements course by course with the number of years of service returning graduates need to provide and the type of service because Government cannot necessarily absorb all of that but opportunities need to be created, whether or not it’s within the public service…but (the recipients of scholarships will have to make) a contribution back to our national development,” he added.

Sen. Stiell noted that there are many students who do not serve the bonded term and some who partially serve it.

With this drafted policy, he said, it would ensure that they give back to the country because Government has invested millions of dollars in them.

“…This is millions of dollars, and we’re looking at …. 28 million dollars just to date that’s spent on scholarships. These are significant investment in these individuals and it means that it is only fair that something is received in return,” he added.

According to Sen. Stiell, the work experience and the knowledge that recipients gained overseas can be shared for the national good.

“Government will have a responsibility to ensuring that there are the right opportunities, especially linked to the areas of studies and so that their contributions can actually be felt in what is being done here.

“Each individual scholarship is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. So there is value there and I think it’s important that we all must understand, we can’t take these things for granted.”

“There is considerable value attached, not just in terms of whether it is a 3 or 4 year Undergraduate course, whether it’s a 1 or 2 year Masters course. That is a significant investment and then you look at the earning potential of those individuals for the rest of their working lives.”

“… It is significant … but the need to give back and if that is for a three year period, I would argue that it’s a very small sacrifice to pay in terms of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been invested in those individuals during the period of their study.”

Sen. Stiell conceded that there are greater opportunities for individuals out of the country after graduating but it is only fair to Government that they give back something to the country.

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