PHILIPSBURG–Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Solange Duncan delivered a compelling presentation in a Central Committee meeting of Parliament last week Wednesday, proposing the establishment of a digital thesis library for St. Maarten.
The proposal aims to address the lack of research capacity in Parliament and provide a platform for hosting and accessing valuable scientific research conducted by students and researchers, both locally and abroad.
Duncan emphasised the importance of accurate scientific data and information for effective decision-making by MPs. She highlighted the need for evidence-based policies and legislation, stating that relying solely on personal opinions and feelings is insufficient.
The proposed digital library would serve as a valuable resource for MPs, government officials and other stakeholders to access research findings that can inform their work.
One of the key motivations behind the proposal is the significant number of students who leave St. Maarten each year to pursue higher education abroad. These students often conduct research on various policy issues related to St. Maarten. However, the valuable insights gained from their research often go unnoticed or underutilised. By creating a digital repository for these dissertations and theses, the knowledge and expertise of the diaspora can be harnessed to address policy challenges and contribute to the development of St. Maarten.
Duncan also highlighted the potential economic, social, and cultural contributions of the diaspora to St. Maarten’s development. By engaging with students and researchers abroad, St. Maarten can benefit from their skills, ideas, and networks. The proposed digital thesis library would serve as a platform for sharing knowledge, fostering collaboration, and strengthening connections with the diaspora.
Logistically, Duncan suggested that Parliament’s website could serve as the access portal for the digital thesis library. Additionally, she emphasised the importance of establishing clear submission guidelines to ensure confidentiality when sensitive research is involved. The next steps include fine-tuning the submission process, enhancing technical readiness, conducting a public relations campaign to raise awareness, and establishing an annual knowledge agenda to guide research priorities.
In conclusion, Duncan’s proposal for a digital thesis library on St. Maarten holds immense potential for improving the quality of policy and legislative output. By leveraging the research conducted by students and researchers, both locally and internationally, Parliament and government can make more informed decisions that are grounded in evidence. Furthermore, this initiative will foster closer ties with the diaspora and empower them to actively contribute to the development of their home country.
United Democrats (UD) MP Sarah Wescot-Williams expressed her support for Duncan’s initiative on research done by St. Maarten diaspora researchers. She suggested a hybrid employment/consultancy model for St. Maarten professionals and students abroad, where they can work as consultants for a period of time in St. Maarten and complete the work remotely.
Wescot-Williams also raised questions about the government’s policy on getting locals in managerial positions at government-owned companies and suggested that the government should make use of the research database.
United People’s (UP) party MP Rolando Bryson also expressed his support for the initiative and asked about how to market it to students and synchronise it with the government’s policies. He also suggested creating a process for internship requests and translating the research papers into English.
Independent MP Christophe Emmanuel expressed his concern about the loss to the people of St. Maarten, students, and the Ministry of Education due to not pursuing an initiative with pure heart, love, and patriotism for the country. He also questioned how the government would take up the initiative and move forward with it, given that initiatives often come and go.
National Alliance (NA) MP Anquelique Romou commended Duncan for her initiative expressing her belief that the hard work put in by Duncan and the support from Parliament would make it go far. Romou also called on students and graduates to take the opportunity to provide their theses to the digital library, as many students have done important work on topics concerning St. Maarten.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/mp-duncan-proposes-digital-thesis-library-for-st-maarten