PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Silveria Jacobs addressed the media in Wednesday’s, April 19, Council of Ministers Press Briefing.
She wished everyone a happy and safe Carnival and stressed “especially to the parents, there is still school, and I would like to remind parents that your first responsibility is to make sure that your children make the most of their education. I’m asking parents, especially during this time, this is the last term. Some are in their last preparations before exams. Make sure that you stress the importance of your children attending school.”
“In the years to come, schedules will be a little more in sync with our schools’ vacations, etc., whereby the youth will be able to enjoy the activities planned for them without running the risk of messing up their school and education,” the Minister continued.
“So to all the parents out there, yes, it is a time for fun and feting, but everything in its time, everything in its place, and parents must execute your parental responsibilities to make sure your children are safe, to make sure that they are well taken care of, and if they are out, that they are supervised. I know that there are laws in place that regulate these things,” Minister Jacobs stated.
The Minister also stressed the awareness of drugs and alcohol during this time. “Some may feel it doesn’t have an effect that awareness programs don’t have an effect, but I believe information is power, and so therefore I implore parents to be aware of the different types of drugs and drinks that your children are imbibing. As adults look at examples we are setting for children. Children do what they see and not necessarily what you say,” she said.
“Experimenting is a part of growing up, so I would like to implore all booth holders to maintain the rules and regulations and not sell alcohol to under-aged youngsters, require an ID to be able to do so. I’m asking adults, do not facilitate the young people by buying it for them. Their brains are still growing and developing, and alcohol and drugs are known to have a negative effect on their development. So I am asking in the interest of our young people, that we all as a community remain vigilant, and parents, of course, take that first responsibility,” Minister Jacobs emphasized.
She also congratulated the winners of the Teen and Senior Carnival Queen shows. “I’m glad to see that intelligence and beauty scored the points along with performance. There was a great amount of talent on the stage last night, and as government I’m very proud to say that we continue to grow in this area, and as we continue to promote these types of positive acts, a lot of the messages sent out last night were very positive ones,” she said.
She also mentioned “that this is not the time to be settling old beefs. I have heard many of the truancy officers and Inspectorate dealing with certain cases. They’ve been called to the schools to deal with students, who have blatantly said in front of their own parents, which is quite alarming to me, as well as school management, and the inspectorate ‘you can suspend me today, but I’ll deal with it in Carnival.”
She said this mentality that comes from “a minority of people, who look to do these types of things, and they can mar the beauty. They can mar the market value of Carnival as one of our main cultural festivals for this year, for the fiscal year, and can serve as a damper on the entire festivities.”
“So I implore you to find other ways to settle your disputes. Words help, they do. Use your words. Sit down and discuss the problem. You can usually find a solution. And if worse comes to worse, just stay out of each other’s way. That’s the best way for us to maintain peace on this island. So as adults I hope that we are modeling that same behavior for our young people,” Minister Jacobs advised.
She also thanked all the corporate and individual sponsors “who are assisting all of the competitors to be able to take part in Carnival. Government has also stepped up a little higher to the plate this year in assisting, especially with the cultural contributions to the queen shows, to the calypso competition, as well as to the parades. We would like to promote the cultural aspects of Carnival and St. Maarten. And continue to attract tourists and locals to enjoy fun in a responsible manner.”
The Minister also updated on the Leonald Connor school, where “students are in the process of moving back to their campus…The 4th, 5th, and 6th graders are already in and the last of them will be moving in today to be able to start tomorrow.”
“I would like to thank all who made that possible and to thank the parents, teachers, staff, and management, and all concerned for their patience,” she said.
“Many of the other upgrades that we have planned are in peril. We will have to figure out a way creatively and maybe the Minister of Finance and the rest of the Council of Ministers will assist us in coming up with ways to bring about the necessary upgrades that are necessary to have our infrastructure for education where it needs to be, sooner rather than later,” Minister Jacobs concluded.