The Daily Herald reports today that Statia and Saba have shown that they are willing to cooperate to improve education on their island and to solve the problems at their secondary schools. These islands will receive additional funds. Bonaire on the other hand is not cooperating and has been warned that it might face financial sanctions.
St. Eustatius and Saba are making use of the assistance offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
OCW and things are gradually improving on the islands, said State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker in a general debate with the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Wednesday.
The two islands are making use of the various coaches that have been made available, and they are solving the issues with management and the board of the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) and the Gwendoline van Putten School. “Saba and St. Eustatius are constructively cooperating to get things moving,” said Dekker. The Dutch Inspectorate of Education is currently visiting the Caribbean Netherlands.
St. Eustatius and Saba have also complied with the request to draft a plan for special care students and are receiving additional funds to carry out this plan, said Dekker. US $385,000 has been made available for St. Eustatius, and US $330,000 for Saba. Bonaire has not drafted such a plan and therefore has not received additional funds for this group of students.
Dekker said he was worried about Bonaire, which so far has refused to make use of the special coaches to improve the quality of management and boards of the local secondary SGB school. These coaches are very experienced in upgrading the management of schools that are in trouble, but Bonaire is not making use of them, said Dekker.
Bonaire’s attitude may very well be punished through financial sanctions, warned the State Secretary. “When we send special people to help out, they have to make use of them. I hope that we will not have to resort to this drastic measure because financial cutbacks can result in a quick deterioration at the school. Doing nothing however, is not an option. “We will not be hijacked by a bad school board. I’d rather take harsh measures than to let the situation continue. This is sad for the students because they will be the victims,” he said.
Dekker said he totally shared the concerns of the Members of the Second Chamber André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party, Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA and Paul van Meenen of the Democratic Party D66 about the fragile quality of the school boards on the three islands.
Van Laar said he was very concerned about the quarrels between the school boards, management and teachers, with dissatisfied and worried students and parents as a result. “This situation has been ongoing for more than a year and needs an urgent solution.” Van Laar suggested establishing a task force for secondary education under the
auspices of the Ministry of OCW, which can serve as a sort of supervisory body and intervene in conflicts.
Dekker said he too was concerned about the quality of the school boards and the level at the secondary schools. He said that in St. Eustatius the Gwendoline van Putten School had taken steps to improve things after receiving a highly critical report, but he added, “The improvements are vulnerable.”
He noted that the SCS in Saba has had a very turbulent period, but that things are getting better. He said he would have the Inspectorate of Education keep a close watch on these two schools. The state secretary announced during Wednesday’s meeting that he has made an additional 12.7 million euros available for the three islands combined over the next four years to improve secondary education. An extra 150,000 euros will be spent on coaches for secondary education on the islands and 400,000 euros for basic education coaches.
Big improvements have been realised at the primary schools on the islands. Both the State Secretary and the Members of Parliament complimented everyone working at the schools for their hard work and dedication to bring up primary education to a basic quality level. Dekker announced that during its yearly quality assessment last week, the Inspectorate of Education ascertained that the Golden Rock school in St. Eustatius had reached the basic quality level of education.
The Inspectorate has repeatedly ascertained that education staff on the islands are working hard on the realisation of the quality improvements points that were laid down by the schools and the Ministry of OCW in the Education Agenda Caribbean Netherlands in March 2011.