PHILIPSBURG–Education Minister Silveria Jacobs says the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sports Affairs (ECYS) intends to finalise the Higher Education Ordinance within the next year, after which it will be forwarded to Parliament for ratification.
She told Members of Parliament (MPs) during the continuation of a meeting on the situation at University of St. Martin (USM) that once the law is ratified, the Ministry will have the legal basis and policies to realise greater access to accredited higher education programmes in the country to meet the needs of the local labour market and to enable residents to better compete in the highly skilled global economy.
The USM board as well as students have underscored the need for the law and have called for it to be finalised post-haste.
Jacobs said the first draft of the Higher Education Ordinance in 2014 had been vetted by Government’s legal department. At that stage the vetting showed that the draft was not up to par with the legal requirements for St. Maarten. It represented legislation that had been acquired from the Netherlands Antilles and did not sufficiently take into account the local context. In addition, there was no “startnotitie” (with an outline of the goal), and the draft and explanatory memorandum were found to be incomplete, Jacobs told MPs.
To address these concerns that arose from the first vetting and to ensure that the law would sufficiently reflect the local context, the “startnotitie” Higher Education was presented and approved by the Council of Ministers in May 2016 and the process to draft a new ordinance began with research to form the Policy for Higher Education for St. Maarten.
In this process USM was consulted in 2016. The information coming out of the meeting was a part of the information gathered to prepare the policy.
Six key issues were researched and formed the basis for the policy paper on Higher Education drafted by the Department of Education.
The policy on Higher Education was approved by the Council of Ministers on November 21, 2017. This entails the installation of an interdisciplinary ministerial workgroup with the task to develop possible funding models and provide legal advice on the draft Ordinance. The funding models will lay the basis for the regulations on funding in delegated legislation.
The drafting of the new legislation began in March 2017 and the draft legislation and explanatory notes will be forwarded to the Legal Affairs Department before formal consultations are conducted. Afterwards, the final vetting can be concluded, before decision-making by the Council of Ministers and presenting the draft to the Council of Advice, Jacobs said.
She said, “The law has been identified as a priority and is being treated as such. The Ministry intends to finalise the Higher Education Ordinance within the next year and to forward it to Parliament for ratification.”
In the interim, funding for Higher Education via subsidy will have to be given priority so as to secure the sustainability of continued education in St. Maarten, Jacobs noted.
She said she is willing to present the policy on Higher Education to the Central Committee or Special Education Committee of Parliament on request.
Thursday’s meeting was adjourned until further notice after Jacobs presented her answers and MPs posed additional questions, as another meeting had been scheduled.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/71675-jacobs-says-higher-education-law-to-be-completed-in-2018