PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Silveria Jacobs addressed members of the media in Wednesday’s, June 7, Council of Ministers Press Briefing.
On issues pertaining to her Ministry, she first congratulated Milton Peters College (MPC) 3 on 3 basketball teams, who travelled last Sunday to the Netherlands to compete in the Olympic Moves competition in Amsterdam. The event took place in the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam on June 9, and during the tournament the team competed in a street ball 3 on 3 category.
The students also visited several schools where they competed in some practice games. The other islands from the Dutch Caribbean, and throughout the Netherlands were also represented.
Next, she informed that “Team Don’t Quit,” also a recipient of assistance from the Ministry, through the Department of Sports, hosted its competition of Fittest on the Rock over the weekend where the reigning champions were once again crowned Fittest on the Rock.
“We would like to continue to collaborate with Team Don’t Quit in bringing such a competition, probably on a smaller scale, to our high schools some time later this year,” Minister Jacobs said.
Additionally, she mentioned some students from NIA, who went to France to compete in dance competitions, and were able to come back with two gold medals. “So, all in all, we must say Sports, Arts on St. Maarten are thriving here as well as abroad, and as much as we feel we can do more with the little we are doing, we’re still able to send them out there to represent at pretty good levels,” the Minister said.
Minister Jacobs also informed that the Department of Support Services for Students (SSSD) had held an interactive and informative workshop, which was hosted that same Wednesday, June 7, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at University of St Martin (USM) under the title: “Acting in your best interest – how to manage your money and live at your highest financial potential.” The general public, and especially parents of primary and secondary school students were invited to attend.
Also, Minister Jacobs was invited along with the Minister of TEATT Melisa Arrindell-Doncher to pay a working visit to the American University of the Caribbean (AUC). AUC recently made some changes, and the Ministers were able to tour the facilities as well as get information from management, staff, students, as to collaboration with the different ministries and the general public.
The Minister also informed about the Moot Court competition that was held on Friday, June 2 in which MPC, St. Maarten Academy, St. Dominic High school and “CIA showed a very high level of preparation confidence and intelligence.” She congratulated the winner and reminded that “two years ago we did send representatives to the Netherlands… and the winning team along with some others will be going to the Netherlands next year 2018, in January to represent St. Maarten and we wish them much success.”
Then addressing the controversy being experienced at the National Institute of Professional Advancement (NIPA), Minister Jacobs stated, “Allegations are being levied. The board has already sent their statements to the daily newspapers and we did see that it was included in the report. However, several questions were asked of my person and as Minister of Education, and maintaining the quality of education falls within my responsibility, and as such the Inspectorate will be doing what they have to do to make sure and report back.”
“The last reports I’ve had were that things were improving, and so I expect to be updated on that further. The board has been taking, based on reports that I have received from them, their decisions as a board and so therefore, all of the stakeholders who have appointed members to the board, will have to sit and discuss the way forward in terms of whether an intervention is needed or not,” the Minister continued.
“I would be awaiting the Inspectorate reports. The board as well reports on a regular basis to the Department of Education, and takes part in monthly meetings, so there has been no red flag shown before this, and so therefore based on the information. Also a labor dispute is not one in which the ministers can become involved. The labor agreement is between the board, and the employee in question, and therefore I will not be taking any questions pertaining to any labor issues at this point or today until we as the stakeholders have done what we have to do,” Minister Jacobs stated.
In culture news, the Minister announced that Flag Day will be on June 13, “and I remind the general public to show their national pride in flying their flags high. We have always put out a flag protocol and I will see to it that that is also put out there, so we know the right ways to do that. Happy Flag Day in advance.”
“Emancipation Day is also coming and in collaboration with Voices, government will be hosting this year’s Emancipation Day celebration. Further information will be sent out to the general public as well as all others, who we encourage to celebrate along with us. Emancipation Day will be celebrated on Saturday, July 1,” the Minister informed.
In news from UNESCO, the Intangible Culture Real Heritage workshop will be hosted by the Department of Culture together with the St. Maarten and National Commission for UNESCO. This is the second round of consultations, which will be Monday, June 12, to Wednesday, June 14, from 9:00am to 4:00pm at the new government building conference room. For more information on how to take part in these workshops contact Marcellia Henry or Sharine Allamby-Duncan at the Department of Culture.
The Minister also reported on the presentation she received from the Division of Exams on the results of the 574 pupils who sat the FBE Exit exams. For 2016 and 2017, the Catholic School Board SKOS and Division Public Education had the largest number of students of 161 and 160, respectively.
The Foundation for the Methodist Agogic Center (MAC) had 101 and Hillside Christian had 77. The performance levels for Math and the overall percentage score remained about the same as last year’s. There was a slight improvement, though not sufficient, for Dutch and a slight decline was noted for General Knowledge and in English, “so several actions will be discussed with the school boards on moving forward in terms of rectifying what seems to be a trend. The highest scoring school was the St Dominic.”
“I would like to remind especially our schools, parents, to be very vigilant where the weather is concerned. The hurricane season has started, and we have been experiencing extreme weather…Pay attention to the weather reports the Met Office posts online on a regular basis,” the Minister warned.
Finally, she congratulated the Lions Club on 100 years of Lionism and 100 years of working together with the community.