Saturday , March 2 2024

“Free moving” students from islands have problems

Students from the Dutch Caribbean who come to the Netherlands on their own, the so-called “free movers,” are facing increasing problems, writes The Daily Herald. The Cabinet of Curaçao’s Minister Plenipotentiary Marvelyne Wiels is concerned and is taking action. Free movers from Curaçao, but also from the other islands, who are studying in the Netherlands on an independent basis and without the backing and guidance of the islands’ study-financing organisations often face problems of social-emotional nature. In general, they lack solid preparation prior to their departure for living and studying in the Netherlands, said an official of St. Maarten Student Support Services S4. This organisation, which also assists and coaches students from Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, is very familiar with the problems the Cabinet of Curaçao’s Minister Plenipotentiary wants to tackle.

The Cabinet describes the main problems as lack of a social-emotional preparation before coming to the Netherlands and poor command of the Dutch language. This often leads to these youngsters dropping out of school, especially at the level of middle vocational MBO education. Dropping out of school means that these students no longer receive Dutch study-financing, which in turn has severe consequences for their financial situation. “They often literally end up on the street,” it was stated in a press release issued by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

The S4 official explained that the non-registration of free movers is also a problem. These youngsters, who often move in with a relative after their arrival in the Netherlands, for different reasons do not register at the municipality where they live. This has consequences for their study-financing. Without proof of registration, these students cannot open bank accounts and they cannot receive Dutch study-financing from Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO). This in turn demotivates the youngsters and has a catalysing effect on their poor functioning in Dutch society. Students who have had a bad start in the Netherlands look for a way out; for example, by using and/or dealing drugs. Some students become very depressed.

S4 tries to help these students, even though they formally do not resort under the organisation because they do not have scholarships from the St. Maarten Government. S4 functions as a one-stop-shop for free movers. It gives advice, but cannot give financial support.

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