SMTF culinary students showing off their talents prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.
A group of SMTF students with their finished dessert.
CAY HILL–Students enrolled in the Emergency Income Support and Training Programme (EISTP) run by St. Maarten Training Foundation (SMTF) will continue to receive their full stipend during the period of closure as a result of the coronavirus COVID-19 measures.
This was the message conveyed to SMTF students and staff by Programme Director Sergio Wolff. Students who were supposed to graduate in April will be allowed to stay in the programme until they complete their course.
“The plan is to extend the time of our current students until they are finished with their programme and receive their certificates. Based on the normal schedule that would be roughly two weeks from re-opening for some groups,” Wolff said in a press release on Monday.
“SMTF is very happy that all stakeholders immediately and unanimously recognised the importance of continuing to support the EISTP and use the disbursements from the Trust Fund to (partially) bridge the employment gap during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
SMTF is actively looking at alternative ways to give more prospective students access to the programme. “We are anticipating a large influx of unemployed persons now that so many businesses on the island are closed or closing. We need to be prepared for that,” Wolff said.
SMTF runs the EISTP programme, which is financed with money from the Trust Fund provided by the government of the Netherlands that is managed by the World Bank, and is implemented by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB). The programme caters to persons who are unemployed or underemployed (working part-time, less than 20 hours per week).
All enrolled students receive financial support (stipend) for attending classes and successfully completing the programme, medical coverage through Social and Health Insurances SZV, and a small transportation allowance. The students enrol in courses on Hospitality, Culinary, Construction, St. Maarten Culture and History (which is an integral part of Hospitality and Culinary), English as Second Language and Basic Literacy.
SMTF partners with entities such as University of St. Martin (USM) and National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) on some of the courses. The goal of the programme is to provide (temporary) income support to the unemployed and underemployed while equipping them with the tools necessary to achieve full gainful employment.
Persons who want to participate in the programme must register at the Labour Department. Criteria such as legal status in St. Maarten, level of (un)employment and residency are used to determine eligibility. Once eligibility has been established by the Labour Department the applicant is referred to SMTF to complete the enrolment process. Interested persons can contact the Labour Department for more information.
SMTF is located at Hillside Christian Schools’ Asha Stevens Campus in Cay Hill.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/smtf-continues-to-pay-stipend-during-closure