During two town hall meetings the results of the language of instruction research on St. Eustatius were presented. The first meeting, on Monday, January 2, was for the general public and the second one, on Tuesday January 28, was for local education professionals. The results were presented by the research team that performed the investigation last year.
The “Language of instruction in St. Eustatius” survey showed that the population of St. Eustatius finds that students should learn English as well as Dutch on a good level. The researchers however concluded that Dutch as language of instruction at the moment forms a barrier for students to achieve good results in school or the transfer to continuation education. In order to achieve a good level of language skills in Dutch as well as in English, the researchers propose that English (Standard/school English) should be the language of instruction in pre-school, primary and secondary education. This because English is the first or second language for the majority of students. Dutch should, according to them, be taught as a foreign language because this language is hardly used in daily life on the island.
On St. Eustatius English is the first or second language for the great majority of the pupils while English is also the dominant language in social life. Before the constitutional changes of 10-10-10 Dutch was the language of examination. In the primary schools pupils would start with English as the language of instruction and switch to English in the course of their primary school career. With the changes pertaining to 10-10-10 the government of St. Eustatius and the ministry of OCW agreed to maintain that situation. At the same time it was agreed that efforts in education would focus on reaching a quality level in 2016 that is acceptable to the European Netherlands as well as the Dutch Caribbean. For that reason schools have since then increased the number of hours dedicated to among others the Dutch language.
In February 2014 the feasibility study will start. This study must point out which language policy best fits the local context and possibilities of St. Eustatius. The study will investigate two possible language scenarios or options that have been brought forward in the survey report:
- English as the only language of instruction, combined with Dutch as a foreign language.
- As Option one but with a possibility to use Dutch as the language of instruction starting year 2 of the secondary school.
Besides that, on the initiative of OCW, the following two scenarios will also be researched:
- Continuation of the current system with adaptations (for instance in the number of lesson hours and the materials)
- English as the only language of instruction, combined with Dutch as a foreign language. For this scenario the Caribbean Examination Council exams will be valid (like on Saba).
The State Secretary of OCW and the Executive Council of St. Eustatius will discuss the results of the Feasibility Study during the Caribbean Netherlands week in June.
Press release RCN