PHILIPSBURG — Unified Resilient Sint Maarten Movement (URSM) prospective candidate Richinel Brug, expressed in a press statement his dissatisfaction with the level of political rhetoric at the start of each school year. “Beautiful words do not improve the quality of education, the labor conditions of teachers, nor fill empty stomachs.”
“I find it quite disturbing that at the start of each school year Government officials are able to summarize the list of challenges parents face: expensive school uniforms, school contribution (referred to by most in the community as school fee), school material, etc., while they refuse to do anything about it. Better yet: they do not even take the time to research and enforce established education laws they themselves have voted on and passed unanimously in Parliament since 10/10/10.”
“What is most disturbing is that research showed, that last year approximately six hundred (600) students went to school every day on an empty stomach. As cost of living continue to rise, I expect this number will continue to increase. These students are dependent on the ability of individual schools to seek and receive funding from the private and semi-private sector, to be able to provide them with a daily school meal. While I am extremely grateful and appreciative for the efforts of these kindhearted individuals and organizations, ultimately it is not their responsibility.”
“Article 7 of the Law on Compulsory Education clearly states that it is Government’s legal responsibility to provide free school meals to students whose parents are not able to provide such. The reasoning behind this law is that nothing should hamper a student of attending school and following education on the level that is required by law. This law goes further to state that it is also the responsibility of the Government of Sint Maarten to provide free uniform to those students whose parents are otherwise not able to provide such.”
“Since October 10th, 2010, Sint Maarten has known eight (8) different Ministers of Education. Not one Minister has ever adhered to this law. The only time a comprehensive meal program was in place for all Public schools, was from 2014-2017, when former Member of Parliament Romain Laville together with the Princess Juliana Airport (PJIA) and Goddard Catering provided breakfast to students in the Public schools. This project is one of the initiatives I am most proud of to have worked on, as a senior policy officer in the faction of MP Laville, as it directly impacted Sint Maarten households. It is one thing to shout out loud that our people are hurting, and it is another to actually do something about it.”
“It must be noted that another Member of Parliament also attempted to regulate this matter via a budget amendment in the past. However, the program itself was not executed by Government.”
“Upon announcing my candidacy for legislative office in March, I made a promise to the people of Sint Maarten that I will not only highlight challenges our people face but also come with tangible legislative solutions that will directly impact seniors, parents and children of this country. My first order of business once sworn in as a Member of Parliament will be to enforce already established laws, draft and submit legislation to immediately alleviate poverty on Sint Maarten.
Brug concluded: “It is high time our people start living the Sint Maarten dream: No one should be left behind.”