Caribisch Netwerk published an interview of the Director of the SCS with Hazel Durand. “Saba Comprehensive School must become the best school in the Caribbean Netherlands,” said the new director of the only secondary school on Saba, Anton Hermans. Currently the The Golden Rock school on Statia bears this title.
Hermans has plenty of work ahead of him. The school has been struggling for years with the employment of teachers and problems with the school board. In 2016, all schools on the BES must meet the basic quality of the Netherlands. But Hermans cannot count on the support of everyone on Saba.
In April, the school sacked four teachers and the director and then the situation worsened, when two additional teachers resigned out of solidarity. Only in June the school started looking for new staff and then the three members of the school board resigned. Many parents and former teachers are in solidarity with the previous director and have expressed their opinion on social media.
“I feel attacked,” said Hermans. “I respect the freedom of speech, but this mode of communication is not good for the school, the teachers and, ultimately, the students. If these people really care about education, stop complaining on social media and come up with ideas to improve education. ”
On October 10, the school was visited by the Dutch Inspectorate of Education. “They were much more positive when leaving, then when they arrived,” said Hermans. “This gives me hope that they will approve our approach. The Inspectorate has asked, if we will be ready with the necessary improvements by 2016. My answer is: why not? Else, the 2016 targets will automatically become 2017’s and then 2018’s. ” In order to achieve our objectives, we are working hard to improve the curriculum for each subject itself. Currently, the teachers are working to improve the programs for testing. The classrooms of the school will be renovated starting December.
The school has been struggling for years with the continuity of employment of teachers. “We spend more money to better educate our teachers. But then, after having acquired the additional knowledge, they leave the school as they find better opportunities elsewhere. On the other hand, there are teachers who remain on the island, but who refuse to take the essential courses. ”
OCW has six million dollars available for recruiting and retaining teachers, especially in the BES islands. State secretary Sander Dekker has already threatened to cut funds if the quality of the education has not improved by 2016.
Hermans wants to invest in iPads for students. But, for these to work, first the Internet has to work properly. In the IT department of the school computers often crash and it takes a long time to get new ones. According to the director, this is very worrisome for meeting the 2016 targets.
The number Saban students that do not complete their follow-on education in The Netherlands is high due to the language barrier and lack of guidance and information. Starting this school year, students will receive more guidance in choosing a follow-on study in another country. This week, students participate in the first career fair at the school. The idea is, to show the students that the Netherlands is not the only option.
The school has made a false start because not all teachers were on the island at the beginning of the school year. This was due to the immigration procedures. Currently, the school only lacks the teacher for ‘Business’. He is expected to arrive on island this week.