MARIGOT–Députée for St. Martin and St. Barths Claire Guion-Firmin questioned Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer in Parliament on June 12 about the conditions for the return to school 2018-2019 in St. Martin during question time.
She began her speech by offering words of encouragement to all the students of St. Martin who are preparing to take their exams under exceptionally difficult conditions. The Member of Parliament (MP) for the two islands is worried about the conditions for the next school year in St. Martin.
“In anticipation of the next school year, the authorities anticipate a reduction in enrolment. However, it is impossible to establish the precise number of pupils to be enrolled,” she stressed. “Some schools will remain closed and we know that those that will be open will not be able to welcome students decently.”
She gave an example of the vocational school, which “is not up to standards and its restaurant destroyed. Therefore, it seems irresponsible to me to say that in St. Martin the school year will start normally, even if it is good for communication.
“In 2020, a new school with a capacity of 900 places has been planned, but what will happen to the pupils in the meantime, knowing that your project and education director is planning a three-year impact study?” she questioned.
“Where are the eight prefabricated classrooms promised seven months ago?
“It is our duty to ensure that our youth have the opportunity to take their rightful place in society. This requires a successful education in a system that ‘combats inequalities,’ to use your words.”
She concluded by asking Blanquer “to provide guarantees to the educational community to reassure it about the means implemented to accommodate all students in dignified conditions and ensure equal opportunities.”
In his reply, Blanquer reaffirmed that these sensitive issues deserved “national unity” and stressed the government’s rapid action in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. He said the census had been completed in St. Martin where “95 per cent of pupils” will start school next September.
He said the government had provided an envelope of 26 million euros to the territory for the reconstruction of schools and the sports hall of Galisbay, “to ensure the essential.”
His reply seemed “incomplete” to Guion-Firmin, who was surprised not to have received an answer on the question of making available the eight long-awaited prefabricated classrooms in St. Martin and who stressed that the 15 million euros granted to the Collectivité for the reconstruction of its establishments is far from sufficient.