PHILIPSBURG – At Wednesday’s, February 8, Press Briefing, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Affairs Silveria Jacobs gave an update on several issues her Ministry was dealing with.
In regard to the Leonald Conner School, funding had been secured and there was a meeting with the contractors. “The critical upgrades to Leonald Conner School are slated to start as of yesterday. As stated before it was slated for 4 weeks so we expect that by March 7 it will be completed,” Minister Jacobs said.
Monday’s meetings were held between representatives of the Ministry of VROMI, the Department of New Projects, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports represented by Division Public Education, the contractor HemCo as well as another contractor who has been charged with the supervision of this project.
Minister Jacobs thanked “all for their patience over the past months in dealing with this.”
Additionally, the removal of asbestos from the Prins Willem Alexander School has started this week, and is slated to be ended by the end of this week. It is being done by asbestos specialists from Curaçao. “The works are in full progress, are going well and are slated to be completed at the end of the week on Friday. By next week, the contractor will then start with the demolition, and move forward to phase 1 of the building, which is projected to be 8 classrooms and expected to be completed within 6 months,” Minister Jacobs stated.
In regard to sports, the St. Maarten Sports and Olympic Federation (SMSOF) was able to secure a membership to the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organization. Through collaborative efforts of the SMSOF, and the Sports Department, “we registered 11 Olympic sports. To be able to participate in Caribbean and Central American and Caribbean as well as Pan American Games the doors have also been opened for the official participation in these games,” the Minister said.
St. Maarten may qualify to be in the Olympic Games of 2024. “So these are very important first steps that have been taken the 11 Olympic sports are: athletics, aquatics, boxing, canoeing, cycling, Judo, volleyball, sailing, table tennis, tae kwon do and triathlon. Basketball and baseball and gymnastics are in the process so they have not yet been qualified,” she continued. She congratulated SMSOF on this achievement.
Minister Jacobs encouraged the public to volunteer when it came to sports. “I would like to encourage the general public to get your hands a little bit dirty in helping our youth because it is constantly the same people day in, day out. So in order not to have that, I would like to encourage all of you, who have an extra hour or two per week, to find an organization that caters to the youth, whether it’s in education, whether it’s in sports, whether it’s in arts or any other youth-related event,” she stated.
“It will require the village and you the villagers, so I’m encouraging all of you to find somewhere to give your time to our youth. Talk is cheap,” she continued.
Additionally, a series of other workshops are available via the Ministry, the Student Support Services Division, another service arm of the Ministry, is executing five preparatory workshops for all students, who are seeking study financing to further their studies in the Netherlands. These interactive and themed workshops started on February 7, and will run until June.
They “are designed to address many of the issues that our students face while pursuing their studies in the Netherlands, and to equip them to be successful,” the Minister stated.
The workshops will be held on February 7, March 7, April 11, May 23, and June 7. This will be broadcast via social media and to the recipients or the applicants of study financing, and will be held at the University of St. Martin (USM).
The sessions will cover topics such as: assessing and adjusting expectations; familiarization with the new environment and what to expect; increasing motivation; Dutch language skills; dealing with feelings of sadness or missing home; weather.
The Department of Education also made it known that Minister Jacobs signed off on the validation of courses at the programs Master Level 2; Cook level 2; Social Pedagogue work level 2 and 3, Licensed Practical Nurse level 3; Registered Nurse level 4; Educational Assistant level 4, and Small Engine Repair level 1, which are now being offered at the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA).
Minister Jacobs reiterated Minister Christophe Emmanuel’s statement of collaboration within ministries, and said, “I am pleased to say that in recent meetings held in Council of Ministers, and out, that the Ministries of Justice, VSA, and Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports have been collaborating, not even on a ministerial level, but at the Department and Division level for several years, and culminating in the integrated youth policy, which they are now working out action plans.”
“We are all ready, even the ones that I haven’t mentioned, to put the money where our mouths are. Because we see that in preventing it is much better than cure. Of course, for the ills that exist, we do need the rehabilitation programs. They will not be dropped. But we will focus heavily in the coming months and years on preventative programs,” Minister Jacobs continued.
“Across Ministries geared towards our youth, and this will continue to happen because without a proper facilities, as well as the resources in place, we are not able to do as much as we would like, but again in the meantime while we’re struggling, I ask that you as volunteers come out support the organizations, support the schools, since the SXMDOET is coming up in March,” she stated.