Arrindell urges students to finish on time and return home

POSTED: 08/3/11 1:22 PM

“It is an urgent necessity as we build this new nation”

St. Maarten – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Rhoda Arrindell has urged the 60 St. Maarten students who arrived in the Netherlands on Monday to commit to their studies, not forget where they are from, grab opportunities to travel and ultimately to return to the island to contribute to building the nation.

“Your purpose here is to acquire as much knowledge as possible that you can use to build up that home we all know as St. Martin. And you have to do so in the allotted time, or else, your hosts might even impose a 3,000 euro fine on you for not finishing on time, if discussions this year in the Dutch Second Chamber regarding higher education are anything to go by. Whether this becomes a reality or not, the fact of the matter is that the Dutch government wants you to finish your studies on time and return to your own island. The St. Martin government wants the same. We want you to complete your studies in record time and return to build the St. Martin nation we can all be proud of,” Arrindell said in a speech at a ceremony organized to welcome the students to the Netherlands.
Arrindell attached great importance to the students finishing on time and returning partially because the island has not seen a return on investment in primary, secondary and tertiary studies in past years as it loses young people to the Netherlands.
“St. Martin has nurtured you to this point and cannot afford to lose you. In fact, St. Martin expects to reap significant dividends from its investment in you. It will not be fair, it will not be just, for you to prolong your stay here unnecessarily or remain here after you have completed your studies to help to further develop a country that is already far more developed than your homeland. This is tantamount to St. Martin having to raise you, and train you for the benefit of The Netherlands! They call that “brain drain” and it is my fervent hope that you will not be counted among that number,” Arrindell said.
“I stress this point because available information is not very heart-warming. For example, it takes an average of six to seven years for students who study in The Netherlands to obtain their first degree, whereas it is only four years for those who study in North America. What is more worrisome is that the same information indicates that very few return to the island who came to study in The Netherlands. I am appealing to you to make sure you are not one of those. St. Martin needs you! Every one of you! It is not just a question of patriotism, it is an urgent necessity as we build this new nation that we want to be the pride of all,” the minister added.
Arrindell encouraged the students to enjoy their new found freedom, but requested they temper it with a sense of responsibility
“You will be the CEO of your time and energy. You will be the CFO of your funds. The success of this company called “YOU” will depend solely on you. You will have no one to blame if you fail but yourself. Use your new found freedom wisely, knowing that freedom without responsibility is “freeness” or better yet, “licentiousness”. Be responsible at all times; you owe it to yourself,” she said.
“ As young students, I urge you to seize all the opportunities you might have now to travel and see the world. I am sure you will find student rates for travel throughout Europe and beyond. Travel is education; the type of education that lasts a lifetime and that you often won’t find in a classroom. And just so that you know, you might not have the time nor money again in future to travel as you wish. The demands of job, family and other responsibilities would diminish your ability to travel after you finish your studies and return home to work,” the minister added.
Arrindell has also urged the students to stay connected to the island as a means of identifying employment opportunities later. One way for them to do this is through internships. She’s also urged to stay in touch with family, to follow current affairs through the government and other websites and through staying close with St. Maarten Student Support Services and St. Martin House in the Hague.
“Stay in touch with home. Get on Skype or any other Voice Over Internet Phone and have your friends and family join too, so you can speak with them for free. As your Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, I will remain available to you at all times. Feel free to contact me or my cabinet if necessary. My telephone number is: 5237755. If you can’t reach me by phone, send me an e-mail at: I promise you will receive an answer from me as soon as possible,” Arrindell said.
The minister’s final encouragement was for the students to choose their friends wisely and to pray.

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Comments (1)


  1. jail says:

    Come on, why come home– the jails in Holland are much more comfortable!