Minister Jacobs: It’s about knowing and facing reality

Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Affairs Silveria Jacobs


PHILIPSBURG – In Wednesday’s, March 22, Council of Ministers Press Briefing, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Silveria Jacobs addressed members of the media and gave an update on the issues her Ministry is working on.

She congratulated Sylvain Henry of the Seventh Adventist School, who won the iStep logo competition. Henry along with the 2nd and 3rd place winners were honored during a logo unveiling ceremony held last week. The 2nd and 3rd place winners also received gift certificates from Office World.

Henry received his gift certificate for an iPad Air from Klass Electronics, which covered half of the cost, and the other half was covered by the project itself. Henry was excited about his win, as one of the younger participants from the elementary school, and would like to be an animator when he grows up.

The iStep team has finalized ICT in Education survey with all the public school teachers, who have been outfitted with iPads. The team went to each public school to administer the surveys digitally using the Online Survey Monkey tool. This survey will be part of the baseline study used to capture the current situation as well as to track progress throughout the project as a training continues. Pilot teachers received their second session of training from the Ed Tech teacher professional consultant.

The iStep pilot program session was two days of intense training, which touched on integration of apps into the classrooms instruction, as well as sharpening of pedagogical skills. “The teachers are quite excited and they’re enjoying and embracing these trainings, which is evident in the very high and outstanding evaluation results at the end of the training. The teachers have a rating of a 9.2 out of 10 and are very satisfied with their trainer Tom Daccord, also the founder of Ed Tech teacher and who we are proud to have piloting these programs,” Minister Jacobs stated. Teachers will continue to receive monthly follow-up sessions until June 2017.

Additionally, the schools’ management will have follow-up sessions in April and May. “We would like to thank TelEm, who has been providing the bandwidth necessary for these trainings to take place at the facility and increasing the connectivity and space throughout the training. We’ll have to continue to collaborate with TelEm in our schools when the program goes fully online, so that teachers and students will be able to make good use of the training that they received,” the Minister continued.

For more information on iStep SXM, like and share their Facebook page, so all can stay abreast of the progress of the project, as it is being updated regularly with pictures and information.

From the Sports Department, the Minister congratulated Master Liu and the St. Maarten taekwondo athletes, “the 15-man strong team who went out there and participated and came back as winners.” She also thanked the sponsors “who have been living up yearly to their corporate responsibility in giving back to society and thereby empowering our youth.”

She also congratulated the under-13 team who took part in a tournament in Aruba last week. They returned on Monday, and although they lost, their scores did improve and were much better than last year.

The Minister went on “to encourage more parents to allow their children to take part in sporting organizations and activities as this builds up that winning mentality, and through more games and more practice sessions they will get there.”

She urged parents to encourage their children to persevere, to never give up, and to always represent themselves and St. Maarten at their highest level.

The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports will be hosting an interactive workshop entitled: “Looking beyond: helping your child with career choices.” This is a free workshop geared to provide parents of secondary school students with tips, strategies and resources to aid their children in researching careers, exploring options and helping them to decide on a career choice.

“This is also important as many students as they get into their third years, they are choosing streams in which to go, so it is not solely reserved for exam students. Parents who are interested in guiding their children are encouraged to go to the workshop on Thursday, March 30, at the SSSD office, right above Gatsby on the corner opposite the police station,” Minister Jacobs informed.

She also mentioned that last week, “we launched a collaborative event campaign with the Leos Club as a Ministry, and through the Inspectorate of Culture, Youth and Sport, we have partnered with the Lions and Leos on this drug and alcohol awareness campaign.”

“Many of the participants who had been invited came out in support and to take part. Through recent findings within the Ministry from reports of an increased number of incidents related to drugs and alcohol-use among our minors, it is showing a steady increase instead of a decrease, including going now to the elementary school level. We believe that it is quite alarming indeed, and believe that steps must be taken immediately to curb this,” the Minister said.

“On Monday, this information session was held with 10 of the 13 entities organizations present. And they were engaged in the realities of what we are facing, and what teachers are facing within the classrooms today globally, as well as locally. All of them present were educated on the use of lyrics in the music. There are children who are there where the promotion of drug and alcohol use, as well as violence, and the objectification of women is the norm. Many of the adults in the room, and even some of the younger ones were not able to decipher the lyrics that were disseminated and analyzed that day. It is quite alarming and I do implore parents to start to pay attention to what your children are looking at, listening to, as it is slowly creeping into their brains and becoming their normal as well,” she explained.

“Drug and alcohol use is being promoted on a wide scale on St. Maarten in the media, in music and it really would take a discerning user of these mediums to be able to distinguish what messages are being sent. So it’s all about awareness, it’s about knowing and facing reality,” she said.

At the end of the session, all of the attendees pledged to participate and collaborate with the Ministry and the Lion’s Club to help slowly move towards eradication of drug and alcohol use and abuse among the youth. “So we look forward to the follow up. There will be several and especially in advent of the coming Carnival season. It is not just for Carnival though, but we know that during this time there is more accessibility, and while the laws exist to protect our children, not enough penalties are in place for those who are the ones facilitating that our children can buy, and take part in these types of adult activities, which are also harmful to adults. In preserving their development we are really striving to break the trend, and to create a culture of excellence in our schools,” Minister Jacobs stated.

“We will continue to work together as government to cure this ill within our society,” she concluded.