Dr. Alma Fleming-Rogers school officially opened

POSTED: 06/24/14 1:42 PM

St. Maarten—The newly built Belvedere primary school was officially opened by the Minister of Education Patricia Lourens-Philip yesterday afternoon.  The school was named Dr. Alma Fleming-Rogers Educational Center after veteran educator Alma Fleming-Rogers who was the first person on St. Maarten to receive a doctorate in education.

This project was started in 2009 and was expected to be completed in 2012; however, after three governments and three Ministers of Education the school was finally completed in 2014 at the cost of some Naf 4.9 million.

USONA representative on St. Maarten Drs. Angela Dekker in her address to the gathering, which included Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Minister of Education Patricia Lourens-Philip, Head of Public Education Glenderlin Davis-Holiday, and Head of New Projects Ing. Kurt Ruan, spoke of the challenges that they faced with this project. She mentioned that even though the project took some time she found that whenever they started a project with Public Works Department (VROMI) it is always completed.

She noted that even though the financial agreement was signed in November 2009 and it was meant to be completed in August 2012. “Although two years later it is there.” She explained that this project is shared between government and USONA and the funds was not for an educational project as such, since the funds did not come completely from education but from the Social Economic Initiative (SEI). The initial goal of the school was to alleviate the problems for the parents in the neighborhood, and to start of the zoning where children go to school in their own neighborhood.

She further noted that the funds from the SEI did not cover the inventory of the school which resulted in numerous meetings with Head of Public Education Glenderlin Davis-Holiday since they had to determine areas such as the amount of classrooms. And she added that there is still some work to be done but will be completed by August for the new school year.

Head of Public Education Glenderlin-Davis Holiday remembers the numerous meeting that they had for the building of the school. She mentioned that it was because of the cooperation between the stakeholders they were able to complete the project. She sees this as a great accomplishment for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, and the entire Belvedere community. “All students who have the opportunity to benefit from this institution will be well cared for,” said Davis-Holiday.

She expressed her gratitude to the staff of Public Education and the contractors who completed the project.

Head of New Works Kurt Ruan said that it is “a state of the art project” which sits on 4000 square meters of land and there is still a large piece left for more educational possibilities. He called on government to make use of the opportunity since there were ongoing talks of building a secondary school.

He mentioned that the school has some eight classrooms, office space, handicraft room, a computer room, core center, teachers room with a kitchenette, canteen a play area a gym and a covered area where students can sit to have their lunch and homework, said Ruan.

“We can all be very proud of what we will be delivering today,” said Minister of Education Patricia Lourens-Philip. She spoke of the work that was done with the project by the different persons perfecting it and are some cases making changes, but it was all in the interest of ensuring that this was the best building in the area.

Lourens in remarks read an impressive biography of Dr. Alma Fleming-Rogers who was the champion for the undocumented students who resided on the island at the time, since at that time they were barred from attending school. She pointed out that Dr. Fleming continued to educate the underprivileged persons at her home after she left work.

She described that Dr. Fleming as a person who ”tirelessly defended education for those who were underprivileged and denied their right by society” and as a result it was thought it fitting to name to name the institution after her and would be a source of national pride and inspiration for those who attend the center.

Dr. Fleming-Rogers was recognized for her undying passion in defending and educating the under privileged and the disenfranchised children residing on the island.

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