Minister Jacobs updates on Cuba trip, and issues warning to parents

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


PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Silveria Jacobs addressed Wednesday’s, April 5, Council of Ministers Press Briefing.

First, she mentioned that students interested in furthering their studies in the U.S. or Canada, must ensure that they apply for a student visa or study permit. This topic is very important as it ties to immigration matters. If any mistakes are made during the application process or any important information is left out, this can cause unnecessary delays and may cause an application to be declined as a result.

The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) “in an effort to demystify the process” is inviting students and parents to ‘steps to applying for U.S. student visa or Canadian study permit,’ which is an interactive workshop to be held on April 13, from 5:00pm to 6:00pm at the University of St. Martin (USM).

In Sports news, the meeting room of government is being used by the St. Maarten Sports and Olympic Federation in collaboration with the Sports Department, as they’re hosting a sports conference. There are several speakers, and information is being disseminated to the various stakeholders in sports, in an effort to further strengthen the institutions and better prepare their athletes for upcoming games in 2018.

The Minister also gave an update on her recent trip to Cuba. “After four days of marathon meetings with both ministries and higher education institutes, including the ministries of Higher Education, Culture and Tourism, and universities such as the universities of Arts, Medicine, Hospitality, and Tourism, Pedagogy and Sports, and all of these institutions and ministries were able to give us firm commitments as a Kingdom,” Minister Jacobs informed.

There were one-on-one discussions with the different institutions that were represented from in the Kingdom to collaborate, to share expertise, promote student and Professor exchange, technical assistance, research collaboration and partner within the Kingdom, she said.

“As Kingdom partners, but also more importantly as fellow Caribbean countries, the welcome by the government and the professional community of Cuba was heartwarming, and encouraged future cooperation. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, can expect to come to some very firm agreements within the coming months as to the scope of the multi-year plan of cooperation between Cuba and St. Maarten, which marks a historical first at this level,” Minister Jacobs continued.

“An opportunity for the delegation to travel to Cuba to secure a part of our cultural heritage through the film industry and gain exposure through exchange in a Caribbean market is expected as soon as the end of June. This will be a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Culture in Cuba, and our Department of Culture in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport,” the Minister further informed.

“So they are financing part of it, and we are financing part of it. So this is a first step and at the end of June contacts were also made with University of Havana, Hospitality and Tourism, Vocational School of Arts, the Latin American School of Medicine, the Pedagogic University, which deals specifically with education of teachers at all levels,” Minister Jacobs said.

These contacts will be shared with the vocational higher educational institutes in St. Maarten, as well as with other cultural organizations, who can benefit from such collaborations. “To further enhance their program development, there is a possibility for St. Maarten student athletes and artists to matriculate in universities in Cuba,” she continued.

The Minister noted that Cuba is “far ahead where certain areas are concerned, and we also have areas of expertise, which we could share with them as they were very concerned about their water production, and that’s an area where desalination is concerned. They are looking at that option where St. Maarten would be able to also offer some level of expertise so we look forward to that.”

“Especially also where sports and arts are concerned, many of our athletes, and we’re looking forward to ways that we can facilitate their development, bringing coaches and instructors and technicians down as well as getting some insights into meeting the needs of our special needs students,” Minister Jacobs further observed.

Finally, Minister Jacobs congratulated the new Junior Carnival Queen and the 10 finalists of the Calypso competition. She also stressed to parents: “Keep a keen eye out for your children. Remember the Carnival Development Foundation is not responsible for your children. We as a community have to continue to look out for our children. Parenting comes first, and then rest of the community kicks in, and we do want a village to continue to look out for our children, continue to promote respect for self, and respect for others.”

“While having fun still remember in these things that you are a child. If it is a child activity that you can conduct yourself in manners behooving children, so I would like us to completely focus on making sure that we are keeping our youth safe. Empower them to know their rights, but also empower them to execute responsibility and respect,” she continued.

“Parents, remember your responsibility because I believe the Police Department made it quite clear what some of the consequences would be for young persons, who are not supposed to be taking part in, especially the adult sections of the Carnival celebrations,” Minister Jacobs warned.