Minister of Lands and Local Government the Hon. Sidney Collie praised the school co-operative system is “an ideal vehicle for entrenching the cooperative movement as a living social and economic organ in the community”.

At the recent Charter Presentation Ceremony to the St. Anne’s Blue Waves Multi-Purpose Junior Co-operative Society Limited, Mr. Collie said history has shown that co-operatives have become an integral component of nation building for many developing countries.

He said in The Bahamas the co-operative credit union industry boasts bank savings of $205 million. However, for co-operatives to go even further in the country, Mr. Collie said more youth involvement is needed.

He said co-operatives serve several purposes in schools. Mr. Collie explained that co-operatives instil brotherhood, sisterhood and teamwork.

Co-operative education also develops managerial, vocational and leadership skills and develops self-confidence, self-reliance and initiative, while encouraging mutual respect among its members.

Co-operatives also act as a means of mobilising capital and providing goods and services within the school community. Through the selling of shares, co-operative education provides reinforcement for the idea of ownership and control of national resources and entrepreneurship.

Mr. Collie recalled that when he visited St. Anne’s a month and a half ago the students told him they were in the process of getting their credit union up and running.

He praised them for beginning with 50 members and for saving almost $1,000.

The Minister encouraged the Board of Directors to make the organisation one of the most active and dynamic clubs on the school’s campus.

The founder and secretary of the Public Workers Co-operative Credit Union Limited, Arlington Miller said his credit union will adopt the school as its junior partner and guide the students as they work to create a strong co-operative.

Mr. Miller explained that the credit union is an organisation with people helping people. “You join the credit union and your money helps me and my money helps you,” he noted.

Although members can borrow twice as much money as they have saved in their credit union, he encouraged the students to become savers rather than borrowers.

Principal of St. Anne’s, Cynthia Wells told the students that the presence of the Minister and officials from the credit unions demonstrates the positive assistance and guidance being given to the students as they start their co-operative.

She said, “This co-operative will give you the opportunity, those who study business to put the book work into practice and if you practice it now, when you get into the real world you will be ready and prepared.”

Mrs. Wells noted that the co-operative was started by Jyoti Choudhury; a faculty member of the business studies department, to foster a spirit of cooperation and teamwork in saving and managing money.

“If we do it right,” she said, “the spirit of cooperation and teamwork can spread throughout the school and can build and help in other areas.”