PHILIPSBURG–The Council of Ministers approved on Tuesday the principle agreement to pursue the long-awaited Law Faculty programme to be offered by University of Curaçao.
Minister of Education Jorien Wuite announced on Wednesday during the weekly Council of Ministers press briefing that in May she had commissioned a report to study the feasibility of starting a law programme at University of St. Martin (USM) as early as September 2018.
The study was executed and the report written by Rhoda Arrindell, who has been involved in the earlier stages of the exploration and feasibility of the programme. The objectives of the programme stemmed from the assignment given on November 1, 2016, by the then Minister of Finance to finalise the feasibility study on a law programme in St. Maarten in cooperation with University of Curaçao.
The execution of the programme was halted due to the passage of Hurricane Irma and has been picked up by Wuite and revisited.
“The goal remains to produce a team of homegrown lawyers through a Dutch Caribbean Law programme, and offer more opportunities for life-long learning and higher education on-island. I have emphasised my belief for education as an important strategy for social and economic development and this is a prime example,” said Wuite.
The report submitted by Arrindell on June 8 gave advice regarding the objectives of the law programme and the initial proposed pre-law programme.
“I prefer not to pursue the route of establishing the so-called Law Foundation to execute the programme on behalf of government. The initial proposal for the law programme at University of St Martin was for two interconnected programmes: a pre-law diploma programme offered by USM and a Bachelor/Master of Law programme (BA/MA) offered by the University of Curaçao (UoC).
“The BA/MA programme will be executed by UoC at USM.
“This means that students in St. Maarten would have to meet the same requirements for admission into the BA/MA programme as the students in Curaçao, and admission would be open to applicants who possess a VWO diploma from an institution within the Kingdom of the Netherlands (or equivalent); possess a HAVO diploma, along with first-year HBO training (or equivalent); possess a HAVO, CXC CSEC, or O level diploma, along with the entrance exam on the level of the UoC Colloquium Doctum; possess a CXC CAPE or A level diploma and the “staatsexamen” in the subject Dutch language; have successfully completed the USM pre-law programme and the entrance exam (for those younger than 23 years) or the UoC Colloquium Doctum (for those 23 years and older); obtained an academic degree from a foreign institution of higher learning, along with the “staatsexamen” in the Dutch language,” stated the minister.
The BA/MA system is also used throughout the entire European Union, making it easier to have international exchange and international recognition of diplomas. A student completing the BA programme would obtain a Bachelor of Law degree.
The pre-law will be looked at as well, but will hopefully be offered by USM and start in 2019. The programme, which is intended to be an intensive 18-month preparatory programme (with the necessary breaks between terms), would provide students with the general knowledge and skills to be able to participate in and successfully complete a Bachelor of Law programme at a university, whether in St. Maarten, within the kingdom of the Netherlands, or throughout the world.
It is intended for students who do not possess a VWO diploma, an HBO diploma, or equivalent/higher certification from a post-secondary institution.
At the end of the programme, students would be prepared to sit the University of Curaçao Colloquium Doctum exam, which is the pre-requisite for the University of Curaçao Bachelor of Law programme at USM.
For students not able to immediately qualify for the BA/MA programme, the pre-law programme is seen as the first step in fulfilling the original objective of the creation of home-bred lawyers. Admission would be open to all legal residents of St. Maarten, regardless of age, according to the minister.
The budget for the proposed programme would come from the Ministry of Finance under a budget post set up by the former Minister especially created for this project. With the blessing of the current Minister of Finance, start-up and operational cost in 2018 will be borne by that Ministry and thereafter the budget 2019 will reflect the transfer to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.
“I acknowledge the support and partnership of Dr. Flora Goudappel (University of Curaçao), Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, Shermina Powell-Richardson, the Secretary General of the Ministry, and the entire Council of Ministers, especially the Minister of Finance,” stated Wuite on Wednesday.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/77599-wuite-foresees-law-programme-commencing-at-usm-in-2019