A large group of persons were present at the official opening of the Godfred Bontenbal Technical Center in Saba on Monday. Technical vocational education and training (TVET) of Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) will now be taught at the former leather factory at Cove Bay.
Festivities included the kick-off of the “Skill is Power” campaign in Saba, organized by the Department of Education, Culture and Science of Kingdom Service Caribbean Netherlands (Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, RCN)).
The official programme started with a rendition of the Saba song by five SCS pupils and the blessing of the building by Pastor Vernon Liburd. Education Commissioner Chris Johnson unveiled the new name of the building together with Godfred Hassell and Henk Bontenbal, the first two technical teachers after whom the building is named. The formal part of the programme was concluded by Caribbean Netherlands project leader Gerard Maas, who gave the official green light for the start of the “Skill is Power” campaign, developed with SCS and Foundation Social Workplace Saba.
Goal is to show young people, their parents and family members the importance of workmanship, and that vocational education offers a good future perspective. In the campaign pupils and skilled workers demonstrate that they are proud of the vocational education they are pursuing and of the work they do.
This campaign already started in Bonaire on March 3. St. Eustatius is to follow in April. In the building technical classes of SCS will be conducted. Following the first two general school years, pupils can choose between the “theory oriented” stream and the “vocational stream.” The TVET programme will be offered during the two-year vocational stream, supplemented with several general educational subjects.
This educational system is to provide for broadly educated professionals. In the well-equipped classrooms pupils can do practical training in technical subjects such as welding, painting, carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing and electrical engineering. Pupils who complete the four-year course will receive a diploma recognized by the Dutch government on the basic-vocational level of VMBO. Effective August 1, pupils on Saba can pursue their education on level-2 of TVET.
For the duration of the “Skill is Power” campaign, which runs until June, posters will be visible throughout the island on which pupils and professionals will relate why they chose for this type of education. These pupils and professionals will also appear in a series of newspaper ads. There will also be a radio commercial, and the campaign will also be supported by the “Skillispower” page on Facebook. Finally, vocational education and its importance will also be addressed in several radio and television programmes.