USM, Pond Island:—- There are two matters all St Martiners agree on. The first is the importance of education as a way for the every Peter, Paul, Pablo, Ping, Maria, Melissa, and Mahati to become a lawyer, doctor, nurse, carpenter, electrician, or scientist. The second is that education on this island is in need of improvement. It is important however to recognize that part of fixing any situation is thoroughly understanding how one got into that situation and how seemingly easy solutions might be costly in the long run.
Given this state of affairs, the University of St. Martin (USM) has teamed up with Windward Island Teachers Union (WITU) to invite Dr. Melissa Weiner, an internationally renowned sociologist of education, to Sint Maarten to share her research on schooling practices in the Dutch Kingdom. Dr. Weiner teaches at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. She researches and publishes on the ways in which colonially derived ideas about the appropriate role of men and women, the adequate education for the children of the working classes, and the importance attached to skin colour and hair type, continues to be part of the unacknowledged curriculum throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
On the importance of the lecture, Mrs. Claire Elshot-Aventurin, President of the WITU stated, “this is a great opportunity to collaborate with the University of St Martin in presenting to the teaching staff of Sint. Maarten, and the public at large this informative and educational lecture from this young professor. As a union, it makes us proud to know that our members can be empowered in their work by attending the locally organized lecture of this nature. This will help the teachers to hear, analyze and admit to which level they would want to bring education”.
To make sure that this lecture meets the needs of the teaching population, Dr. Francio Guadeloupe, the President of USM, has consulted with various school boards and actively enlisted the help of local veterans in education. One of these veterans is, comedian, and artists, Ms. Dorothy Richardson who has been active for 45 years in education. When asked why she took up the offer to be part of the organizing committee, Ms. Richardson had this to say, “it is long overdue that we as a people revisit, and rethink the function and goals of the educational system in our society. This time, we must genuinely work towards nation building through education. I look forward to Dr. Wiener’s discourse ‘of how decolonizing education can subvert the current status and promote nation building”.
Dr. Guadeloupe invited the entire public of St. Martin – both sides of the island – to attend the conversation as it is about the future of your son, daughter, and grandchildren.