Minister Jacobs: Putting education first

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


PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Silveria Jacobs addressed the media in Wednesday’s, May 31, Council of Ministers Press Briefing.

She first mentioned the opening of the friendly race, which was organized by UNESCO and Aline Hanson School from Sandy Ground, French St. Martin. It is a race in commemoration of the anniversary of the partition of the island. This is the 2nd annual friendly race between the MAC Browlia Maillard campus and Aline Hanson School.

“They are trying to re-enact the myth of how the island was divided. It’s a cultural celebration, but also a celebration of friendship and so I commend the two schools on both sides of the island,” the Minister said.

She also congratulated the Lions Sporting Club Organization for the execution of the softball tournament, which hosted 13 teams, representing 3 from St. Maarten, 4 from Curaçao, 3 from Aruba and from Bonaire.

“It’s also a great initiative for tourism because many of the teams brought family members and supporters and fans, and so the stands were filled from Wednesday evening straight down to Sunday, when the finals took place,” Minister Jacobs said.

The Curaçao teams won, the Aruba team came in second, and some of the individual medals went to St. Maarten players. “We didn’t win the tournament, but St. Maarten put up a very good showing and they had a great support from the local crowd,” she stated.

The Minister also provided an update on the situation that occurred on Monday due to inclement weather. “Following the news and seeing the reaction of the public, most agree that at the time that school was cancelled. I waited until as late as I could because at that time from early morning it was thundering and lightning very badly. There had been rainfall all night…so we were monitoring and while the Met Office did not recommend that schools be closed, knowing where most of our schools are, you have to pass through flooded areas to get to the schools, I decided to close the schools early in the morning, and notified via DComm as well as via social media,” Minister Jacobs explained.

“Two schools that still had scheduled exams, the St. Dominic High school and the St. Maarten Academy, which pertain to the CXC examinations in which there are no resits possible. That is why initially we stated that they were not cancelled, and that they would be able to attend. However, as the morning progressed and we saw the first exam was scheduled for 9:00am, and between 7:30 and 8:00 the weather was pretty bad, and so it was decided also. I received many reports of flooding from several different areas around the island including from the Division Head of Exams, who was unable to leave her home and she’s responsible to deliver the exams,” Minister Jacobs continued.

“It’s a human that has to deliver these exams. The schools do not have these exams in advance and so we decided at that point that it would have to be cancelled. However, the schools called us and notified us that the students were all there, except for one student at St. Dominic and so therefore, we took the risk to send the exams to these schools, and the one child was notified that it was still going on, and he arrived about five minutes later than the scheduled time,” the Minister further explained.

“So the exam was scheduled to take place at 9:00 and took place at 9:10 at the St. Dominic and at 9 o’clock at the St. Maarten Academy. The students especially should be commended, knowing that there is no resit possible, and that they had prepared for this exam,” she said.

“The entire area in front of the St. Maarten Academy gym hall, where the exams are usually kept was indeed flooded out, so another location had to be found within the school, and the exam took place without a problem. The second scheduled exam was in the afternoon at 1 o’clock and …another announcement had to be made that the exams were going on. Also by that time to weather had cleared up, and the roads were much more passable. So we did not want to jeopardize the students who had also prepared for the exam. There was over 70 students. At the exam in the morning were 17 at the St. Maarten Academy and 11 at the St. Dominic,” Minister Jacobs stated.

She again commended parents and students for “putting their education first.”

In regard to the FBE Exit Exams, results were available earlier than the dates scheduled in June. “The schools got their results last week, and some had already started to disseminate to students, who were there because some of them had class trips out of school on Wednesday last week before the holiday break. So some of those group 8, grade 6 students already received their results, and because there was no school on Monday the rest got it yesterday,” Minister Jacobs informed.

So all the students who sat the FBE Exit Exam should now have the results, “and the discussion will continue as to their placement in the various secondary schools. So congratulations to those who did as well as they had hoped, and we keep our fingers crossed that you still get into the schools that you deserve to be in. For those who may not have done as greatly as they may have prepared for, or as great as they may have hoped for, so we look forward to hearing the results,” the Minister said.

The Minister was scheduled to receive a presentation on Thursday from the Division of Exams on the FBE results, and the steps the Ministry will take as a result.