Gumbs, Arrindell prepare for Sint Maarten students -Housing remains critical issue

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Minister Plenipotentiary Patrice Gumbs and Deputy Minister Gracita Arrindell met last week with the Head Division Study Financing Mr. Antonio Aventurin on issues surrounding education, education financing, and particularly the status of students in the Netherlands. The Sint Maarten House, Office of the Minister Plenipotentiary-alongside its political function, is an integral part of the orientation program of newly arriving students from Sint Maarten.

Out of the discussions a key point was the limited housing options for Sint Maarten students and the difficulty in securing access to the limited stock that is available. In addition, the support for students in adjusting to life in the Netherlands and the impact mentally on this transition were highlighted.

“This is concerning for me, because while we don’t want to handhold, I believe that as Government we can do our part to support access to something as basic as housing for our students”, stated Minister Gumbs. “Working with the students forms part of my wider agenda for engagement with the Sint Maarten population and diaspora in the Netherlands and will form a core part of my and Deputy Arrindell’s program in the coming months.

In the end its about how we can best harness the expertise of our people to advance the development of our country. In addition, we as Government have to ask what can we do to ensure that Sint Maarteners in the Netherlands feel valued enough to contribute and feel connected to where they’re from. To be effective the relationship has to be mutually beneficial.