Schoolbuildings on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will be further renovated and improved in the coming years. Education Commissioners Glenville Schmidt of St. Eustatius and Chris Johnson of Saba signed a covenant with Dutch caretaker Minister of Education, Culture and Science Marja van Bijsterveldt-Vliegenthart on Wednesday, sealing their June 27 agreement. A similar agreement was signed with Bonaire Commissioner James Kroon.
Under the motto School Buildings for Each Child,” the Executive Councils and the Dutch Government will jointly invest a total of US $75.6 million to renovate and construct school buildings on the three islands. On St. Eustatius, the Executive Council will contribute US $4 million and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science OCW US $8.7 million to the School Building Plan St. Eustatius 2012-2015. Because the US $4 million would weigh too heavily on Statia’s budget, the Statia delegation asked the Minister to spread the repayment of this amount over twenty years instead of eight. “This means that we now have to pay US $200,000, which relieves the burden on our already strained budget,” said Finance Commissioner Koos Sneek on Thursday. Recently the newly covered area of Gwendolin van Putten was completed. The highest point of the new building of Governor de Graaff School was reached last week. Between now and 2015, work will continue on the remaining construction and renovation of Statia’s schools.
In Saba, the Executive Council will invest US $1.3 million, while the Ministry of OCW will contribute US $7.6 million to the School Housing Plan Saba 2012-2016. Between now and 2016, construction and renovation work will take place at Saba schools, including the school complex in St. Johns. Several projects have already been realised on Saba. The former Leather Factory was renovated for practice classes of Saba Comprehensive School, while the school yard and several other buildings of this school were also upgraded.
The idea is that in 2015 all school buildings on St. Eustatius will offer a good educational surrounding for teachers and pupils/students.
For Saba this target date has been set at 2016.
“New and properly maintained school buildings contribute to good education,” said Minister Van Bijsterveldt-Vliegenthart. The Minister said she was “proud” that together with the local governments, the Dutch Government would realise properly maintained school buildings for all teachers and pupils. “They deserve that,” she said.
The Commissioners were elated as well. Commissioner Schmidt: “I hope that with the confirmation of these agreements, we can solve the problem of the substandard school housing on St. Eustatius.” He thanked the Minister for her commitment to improve schools on his island. Commissioner Johnson also thanked the Ministry of OCW for “their continued efforts to bring the educational sector of Saba to a higher level.” “I specifically thank the Minister for playing an overall lead role in the development of the educational sector on the islands. She created a blueprint for the cooperation between the islands and the Dutch Ministries for the future,” he said.
On Bonaire, the Executive Council will finance US $19.1 million and the Ministry of OCW will contribute US $34.9 million to renovate a number of schools, including the removal of asbestos. A new building for the HAVO and VWO section of Scholengemeenschap Bonaire (SGB) in Bonaire has already been completed.
The construction projects will be carried out jointly by the government on each island and the Ministry of OCW. The Dutch department in charge of buildings (Rijksgebouwendienst) will guide the execution of the projects. The investments in school buildings in the Caribbean Netherlands are a joint responsibility of the Dutch Government and the public entities for education on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.