SINT MAARTEN/KINGDOM – The Ministers of Education, Culture and Science of the Kingdom held a ministerial Four-Country Consultation for the second time this year on November 11th and 12th.
After the first Ministerial Four-Country Consultation on February 7th and 8th this year on Curacao, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) Ingrid van Engelshoven this time received her colleagues Marilyn Alcalá-Wallé (Curaçao), Rudy Lampe (Aruba), Minister Plenipotentiary of Aruba Guillfred Besaril (who replaced minister Xiomara Maduro of Culture) and Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite of St. Maarten (who replaced Minister Wycliffe Smith) in The Hague. The Caribbean ministers were in transit to the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris – which started on November 13th.
The Ministers decided that from now on the Ministerial Four-Country Education, Culture and Science Consultation will be held annually. In the odd years the meeting will be in the Netherlands – always following the biennial General Conference of UNESCO – and in the even years in one of the Caribbean countries. This agreement can be found in the Education, Culture and Science Cooperation Protocol between Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands, which was signed in The Hague on Thursday November 12th.
The ministers made more than 30 decisions about their cooperation. For example, it was decided that the countries would like to ratify and implement the UNESCO 2001 Convention on Underwater Archeology simultaneously. The Royal Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) will be working with the libraries of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten to make agreements about connecting to its digital library.
The ministers also agreed to outsource an external investigation into the connection problems of students in the Kingdom. During the next ministerial Four-Country Consultation in 2020, partly on the basis of this research, proposals will be made to improve the academic success of students from the Caribbean islands. There will also be research into the possibilities of a fund to promote the mobility of students within the Kingdom.
In conclusion the ministers agreed to support further improvement of the communication and information on student finance, which will be effective in the Caribbean context. There will be an exploration if repaying student loans according to capacity to DUO, can also be carried out automatically in the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. And in 2020 the temporary counter function of DUO on Aruba and Curaçao will be evaluated.