PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — I have voiced my concerns to the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports, drs. Rodolphe E. Samuel concerning several matters that have drawn to my attention so frequently that it warrants an explanation and clarification.
On a daily basis I see many young children just hanging around in certain areas socializing with the wrong persons, they walk the streets and sometimes play all day, or perform duties such as packing bags, cleaning, handling the cash registers and packing shelves in business establishments or accompanying their parents to activities, all, during school hours. This at a time when our children should be in school to be taught by their teachers and enhance their educational & social levels. Instead, they are out there participating in the workforce and other none acceptable activities. Even with Compulsory Education being a law there are still too many not in school.
I questioned the Minister about the Truancy Department and if it is functioning, and if they are properly staffed and equipped to do their duties. Even with Compulsory Education in place, many children are observed out of school.
It was questioned if the issues are due to no space available in schools, not having sufficient teachers, or parents not having sufficient finances to pay their children’s school fees, or is it simply because of non-adherence by parents to have their children comply with laws of the land.
Adjustment of school hours to better coincide with parents work hours, assisting to assure the proper supervision of children while out of school with special focus on our Teenagers who are very vulnerable to influences.
Other aspects that have my attention are the School Properties, as to whether or not they are government owned and insured and the actual current state of these properties.
The periodic testing of teachers on their knowledge and competence if this is being done by the education department and or school boards ?
The availability of a school councilors, are these available in all schools as especially in these difficult times councilors are sometimes a child’s only way to vent or let out problems which can seriously effect their lives. This not only due to situations not only at home or in private lives but also sometimes within the school itself and certain environments and situations that can arise. I believe this is a must have within a school system.
There are many unanswered questions. And especially now, during this Pandemic, as these exceptional behaviors of many school children who ought to be in school, but are not, is now becoming a phenomena, it is time – better late than never – to take necessary actions to make this school absentia become something of the past, before things get uncontrollably out of hand.
My aim is geared towards the success of our children, as the youth of today will be our leaders of tomorrow and it is of utmost importance, that we find any and all means to ensure their success.