The Public Entity Saba and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) on Thursday signed an agreement which arranges the transfer of the responsibility for the construction and renovation of the school buildings on Saba to the local government.
Commissioner of Education Bruce Zagers signed the covenant on Thursday morning at the Ministry of OCW in The Hague in the presence of Director General of Primary and Secondary Education of the Ministry of OCW Alida Oppers. Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and Media Arie Slob also signed the agreement.
Following intensive consultation between the Public Entity Saba and the Ministry of OCW, it was decided to transfer the responsibility for the future renovation and new construction of the school buildings to the Saba Government. The agreement clearly states that the Ministry of OCW will distance itself from this responsibility and will transfer this to the Public Entity Saba.
The Ministry of OCW will contribute in the costs for the renovation and construction projects for the schools on Saba. In total, the Ministry will transfer US $7 million in three tranches each year, starting in June 2019, and after that in June 2020 and 2021. US $2.2 million has already been invested in education on Saba in the past years. In total, US $9.2 million was reserved for the Saba Educational Housing Plan under the previous 2012-2016 covenant.
Commissioner Zagers expressed satisfaction with the signing of the agreement. “We have had the money for the school buildings for several years. Yet we have not been able to start the construction of the new daycare and the kindergarten or the renovations of the primary and secondary schools,” he stated.
With this agreement the Public Entity Saba is now responsible for the execution of the project and the funds will also be managed by the local administration, Zagers explained. “With this change, the processes can be simplified meaning that progress will be seen much quicker with some of the renovation projects hopefully starting during the upcoming summer.”
Zagers said it was also important that the new school buildings are big enough to accommodate the number of children who are in daycare and the kindergarten as well as those who are on the waiting list.
“Because of our experience with some large-scale projects and our proven strong financial management, the Ministry of OCW has given us the opportunity to carry out this project which we are grateful for,” the Commissioner said.
As part of the covenant, the Public Entity Saba will submit a plan of approach for the renovation and construction projects of the schools to the Ministry within two months. It was agreed that Saba will be responsible for an “effective and quality” construction and renovation. Minister Slob will prepare legislation to transfer the task of the exterior maintenance of the schools to the local authorities. The covenant is valid until December 31, 2022.