MARIGOT–Opposition Councillor and President of Movement for Justice and Prosperity (MJP) Louis Mussington has written to French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer with a proposal to launch a recruitment drive in St. Martin to entice young university graduates into the teaching profession due to the acute shortage.
“We only have 32 per cent of our teachers working since the hurricanes and it’s possible we might get back up to 50 per cent. There’s still the difficulty of finding accommodation, and whether those teachers that left want to come back,” Mussington observed. “Classes start back on November 6 after the Toussaint holiday and it’s very important this issue is addressed.
“The failure rate is catastrophic and staying out of school for so long exacerbates that. Not having enough teachers can give us another catastrophe. Hopefully the Minister will publish a decree or give instructions to get the recruitment started.”
It’s likely the Minister will be in the delegation of Prime Minister Philippe Edouard, who is reportedly visiting the French Antilles from November 4-6, with a stop in St. Martin and St. Barths on November 6. The official visit is in connection with the ongoing work by the Paris-based Interministerial Committee for the Reconstruction of St. Martin and St. Barths.
The Prime Minister is expected to meet elected officials, business persons and the public while giving assurance of forthcoming funds, particularly for the return to school.
Mussington added tertiary education has become an urgent necessity on St. Martin due to many families losing everything in the hurricanes and are obliged to start back from scratch.
“Many of them did not have insurance to cover their losses and will not be able to afford to send their children abroad to study, given all the fees and costs,” he noted. “My letter included the need to have a university structure in St. Martin for the new school year September 2018, so that students who cannot travel abroad can study here and will not be deprived of getting their degree after two or three years.”
Another issue Mussington addressed was the question of St. Martin’s reconstruction plans. He said he regretted that these plans have not been shared in full with the entire Territorial Council in advance, although there is expected to be a presentation on November 9 at the next Council meeting.
“We have learned of a worrying development where most of the experts sent here by the insurance companies are making contacts with different companies in France to come here and do the rebuilding. In other words, ignoring our own local expertise and builders. Our team cannot sit back and let that happen.
“I think it would be very unfair for our people to be robbed of that income, to earn a decent living, now that there is that opportunity for major rebuilding. We must be vigilant to denounce these practices and make sure the Collectivité defines clear terms as to how the rebuilding process will take place. The builders of this island must get a slice of the pie, not the crumbs.”
Lastly, Mussington took the opportunity to thank all the non-government organisations (NGOs) and relief agencies that came from France to help the people and the territory get back to a normal way of life.
“I must commend Electricité de France (EDF) for restoring electricity in a record period of time. They brought in about 200 of their people and even the CEO paid a visit. That shows great interest and loyalty. The Red Cross did a tremendous job and Fondation de France raised at a public event 10 million euros for the recovery effort. On behalf of MJP we want to thank all those organisations for the support.
“I must also point out how good it was to see the pride and patriotic spirit shown by the young people in the aftermath of the hurricanes. They really participated actively. It’s easy to criticize the youth for being lazy, but they showed in that clean-up period how they sincerely love their island.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/70584-mussington-teaching-work-force-stands-at-32-per-cent