Monday , May 29 2023

“Holland was a nightmare” – language barrier difficult for many Saban students

The outlook is not so good for many young Saban students who go to study in the Netherlands. A significant number of young students stop their studies prematurely and returns to Saba. They blame this on their insufficient knowledge of the Dutch language when moving to Holland.

“The Netherlands was a nightmare ,” said Somalia Levenstone . During her first eight months in Rotterdam , she followed an intensive Dutch course , but she could not keep up with the  level of the course.

Somalia Levenstone (Photo Hazel Durand)
Somalia Levenstone
(Photo Hazel Durand)

Levenstone then moved to the northeast of the Netherlands, i.e. the city of Meppel , where a school is offering education in English . “I was far from my friends and acquaintances and I did not get a scholarship . To stay alive, I tried to find a job, but failed because I could not speak sufficient Dutch . ”

Levenstone decided that enough was enough and with the advice of teachers in October 2012 , she returned  to Saba . She indicated that, from the beginning, she was very hesitant about studying abroad . ” If we would have had sufficient  Dutch lessons at school , the transition would not have been be so difficult . ” She now has a job as an administrative assistant at Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, RCN on Saba .
The Story of Levenstone does not stand alone . According to the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs, DUO, at the beginning of the school year 2011/2012, twenty Saban students left for the Netherlands . According to Monique Hoogerwerf , Education Coordinator Caribbean, at this moment, there is only a total of seven students left in their system. These seven are not part of the group of twenty of the school year 2011/2012 that moved to the Netherlands , but are Saban students that went to Holland in the past ten years. Of these seven,  five have already a degree in their pocket, but continue their studies . DUO also indicated, that although the seven students have a Saban address,  they do not have  necessarily are of Saban descent .

Sharmina Jones has returned from the Netherlands two years ago and now works as an administrative assistant at the Chamber of Commerce . She tried two different studies in Holland, but failed both. Then, she followed a course at the Dutch Jongerenloket . Subsequently she tried to follow a hairdressing course , but due to the language barrier and financial problems , she decided to return to Saba. ” I do not understand that, if the Netherlands is the first choice to go to college , why did we not get a proper education in Dutch?. Young people on the Benedewindse islands have many more opportunities . ”

Many young Sabans feel cornered . Most come back without a diploma and must take a job at minimum wage . In addition many will have to pay off the loan they received to start their studies. Some young people go to American or British schools in the region , but then the costs are even much higher .

Olga Simmons , mother of a student, illustrates the cost of the American university where her son is studying . ” The Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, RCN,  pays twenty-five percent of the annual tuition, so I have to pay the remaining seventy five percent in addition to the insurance . Studying with the help of DUO is much cheaper , ” she says.

Some Saban students choose an option closer to home , like following an MBO study on Bonaire . Julissa Hassel moved to Bonaire in August 2013 to pursue a culinary education. Unfortunately she also gave up quickly due to the language barrier . “It gives stress if you do not know the language well , and on top of that, I was mocked by other students because I did not speak Dutch well . ”

Before she left for her Bonaire, she was told that the classes would be in English. “But the lessons were given in Dutch , and on top of that,  the explanations were given in Papiamento. I became depressed and I felt that I did not get help from anyone  . ” Hassel is now considering following an education in Barbados and accept all the extra cost of this choice.

Hazel Durand – Caribisch Netwerk, March 26, 2014

Note Ed,. Saba-News: Nataly Linzey made an effort to assist her colleague students in the Netherlands by compiling a “Student Checklist“. This document lists an important set of subjects that are important for students that are planning to move to The Netherlands for continuing their studies.
Check it out on the Saba-Online section on this site or click here

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