‘Powering STEAM education’ by Marvio Cooks

PHILIPSBURG –The ongoing energy crisis has increased public frustration, prompting our community to have conversations about who is at fault, what is needed to replace the damaged engines, and possible renewable energy solutions. The unfortunate reality is that there is no magic wand to fix the issues that stem from decades of mismanagement and neglect. It is also obvious that any solution will require substantial funding and research to effectively implement sustainable development plans. 

However, Marvio Cooks, PFP Deputy and ICT Coordinator for Division Public Education shared a different perspective on this crisis: the impact on Sint Maarten students and STEAM education. “I support 7 schools and we have made considerable progress towards enhancing learning with the introduction of ICT devices such as laptop PCs, multi-touch smartboards, tablets, and educational robots. However, all these advancements are hampered by the lack of a reliable energy source.” Cooks said. 

Currently, none of our public schools are equipped with a backup power source to support the continuation of learning during load-shedding events. With this in mind, Cooks believes that a phased transition to a sustainable energy source such as solar should begin in schools. “Getting students ready for the technological frontier requires more than simply providing them with access to devices and an internet connection; it also entails building an atmosphere conducive to learning and interacting with these technologies” Cooks emphasized. “A sustainable power source allows for proper ventilation in the classroom which helps the maintenance of devices and creates a positive environment for students and teachers”. 

Integrating schools as a priority in the phased introduction of solar power is not merely an educational necessity but a safeguard against future disruptions. Reliable energy is foundational to a robust educational infrastructure, especially in today’s digital age. By prioritizing schools in our solar power initiatives, we ensure that our students are not subjected to delays in their educational journey due to energy shortages.  Although we are experiencing serious energy issues, I believe that we have an opportunity to make comprehensive assessments that help us plan for success,” says Cooks. 

The benefits of prioritizing schools in the phased solar power rollout extend beyond education. Schools are often community hubs, and ensuring they have a reliable power source can also serve broader community needs during emergencies. By leading with schools, we set a precedent for comprehensive and strategic planning that can be replicated across other sectors.  Taking these decisive actions will build resilience and ultimately secure a brighter future for all. 

Source: Press Release