An artist impression of what the new Sr. Regina Primary School would look like.
PHILIPSBURG–The Foundation Catholic Education St. Maarten recently presented it post-Irma reconstruction plans to the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB).
Representing the NRPB were Director Claret Connor and Project Manager of Emergency Recovery Projects Paul Sijssens.
“The three project plans of the Foundation were included in the “St. Maarten Master Plan for Education” which was prepared by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports. The Foundation is hopeful to receive funds from the World Bank/Trust Fund in order to execute its three project plans which include major reconstruction at the Sister Marie Laurence Primary School, the Sister Regina Primary School and the St. Dominic High School,” Executive Director of the Foundation Lilia Aventurin-Hodge said.
The Foundation’s vision is to have St. Maarten become a leader of education within the Caribbean and beyond, as St. Maarten has already achieved with its Port and Airport. The proposed construction is in line with the “build back better” motto, which will result in stronger, hurricane resistant buildings based on improved building standards, the foundation said in a press release issued on Friday. Elements such as a concrete roof are vital to ensure continuity of education and care in a more sustainable manner.
Currently the Sister Marie Laurence Primary School location is closed. Besides the major structural damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the school was also damaged by human force due to looting and vandalism. “This called for a complete revamp of the educational facility and philosophy, not limited to academics alone, but with additional focus on the social-emotional aspect. The new vision for the exceptional school – Sister Marie Laurence does not include only a new school campus, but it includes a different approach to education in the sense that subjects such as arts and craft, music, physical education and home economics will form a more integral part of the curriculum.
“In this manner, there will be more focus on all the students’ abilities and the students will be given the opportunity to explore and develop their talents in a positive, structured, privileged, and care-free environment,” Project Manager of the Foundation Tanja Frederiks said. The plans also include to provide workshops for adults and to facilitate outreach programmes to benefit the community of Middle Region, which will be done in collaboration with the Middle Region Community Council, the Rotary Club of St. Maarten, the Red Cross and others.
The Exceptional School – Sister Marie Laurence recently received a Global Grant via The Rotary Foundation. The Rotary Club of St. Maarten is the hosting sponsor club and Rotary Club Huizen-Gooimeer is the International Coordinating Sponsor Club. This global grant will be used in part for a long-term training and development programme for staff. “The staffs’ input will form a very crucial part in the rebuilding of this school as the strategy of the bottom-up approach will be applied to make this Exceptional School a reality,” Aventurin-Hodge said.
The reconstruction plans of the Sister Regina Primary School are necessary as this school building dates back to 1967 and is in need of a complete overhaul. “The outdated classrooms do not meet the needs of modern-day education. With the facilities proposed in the new two-story, hurricane-resistant building, would allow for a much more in-depth experiential education journey for pupils.
Since 1967 the school has been battered by some massive hurricanes with Hurricane Irma causing quite some damage to the roof. Dutch Marines were thankfully able to do some major “quick-fix” repairs on the roof which allowed the school to open again in October 2017,” School Board President Dr. Marlon Halley said.
Lastly, the St. Dominic High School’s reconstruction plans include the replacement of an entire wing of classrooms as well as the construction of additional theoretical classrooms. With the two curriculums being offered at the St. Dominic High School, namely the CXC-CSEC and the International Baccalaureate Programme, the school is in desperate need of extra classrooms, extra teacher workspace, a larger library and extra facilities. The facilities include a functional gym, a theatre and dedicated, fully-equipped rooms for Dance, Arts, Drama and Music for both curriculums. Currently the high school is faced with the challenge of providing 21st century education in a building that is not designed or equipped for the more modern way of teaching and learning. It creates barriers in the students’ relationship to technology, the creative arts and collaborative problem-solving.
The Foundation first presented these plans to respective authorities back in February 2018, and is grateful that the plans have been included in the St. Maarten Master Plan for Education. The Foundation is hopeful that its projects will be considered for funding and that the reconstruction can start as soon as possible.
The Foundation thanked Connor and Sijssens for their enthusiasm, their valuable time and for sharing their knowledge on the processes and procedures. More information concerning the project plans will be shared with the public in the near future.