SBO students to work on new schoolPOSTED: 09/20/11 11:52 AM
St. Maarten – Ten local students who are part of the Secondary Vocational Education (SBO) Program will be involved in the construction of a new primary school in Belvedere. Ground was broken on the project on Monday and the 10 are part of what the government hopes will be a large local labor force on the project.
Construction of the new school will cost roughly five million guilders and span 240 working days. The target date for completion is October, 2012. The new school, which is being co-financed by the Dutch government (70 percent) and the Government of St. Maarten (30 percent) through the Socio-Economic Initiative (SEI), will have eight classrooms, a computer room, a library and a gym. The school will be built in such way that way four classrooms to accommodate 100 students can be added at the moment they become necessary.
“It is not a very big school but an extensive school with huge grounds which will make it very intensive,” co-Managing Director of Betonbouw Caribbean Construction Dirk Kleyn said.
Construction of the new school is seen as a milestone in public education. The idea was born under the previous administration and is based on a research that was conducted in 2009. That research led to a discussion and eventual tendering of the project. The designs were prepared in 2010 and the hope is that the project will be finalized in 2012.
Even before the new primary school is completed there is talk of building an accompanying secondary school that the students can transfer to. There’s no word on when construction on that project will start, but Vice Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger has promised it will happen in this governing term. The new secondary school will help to accommodate the 30 percent jump in the school population since compulsory education was implemented.
Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Rhoda Arrindell welcomed the start of construction and the fact that 10 local young people will participate in the project, calling the latter “the highpoint of the groundbreaking.” She was clear though that upgrading the physical infrastructure is only one part of the wider effort to improve education.
“This is just the beginning of a process since there is training and retraining which is a part of the revitalization process. We still have a long way to go,” Arrindell said.