Education minister stresses cooperating on improvements in new school year

POSTED: 08/16/11 12:37 PM

St. Maarten – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Rhoda Arrindell stressed the government’s continued focus on doing its part to improve education on Monday as the 2011/2012 school year began. All but one government managed or government subsidized school re-opened to allow students to return.
In a speech at the Prince Willem Alexander School Arrindell said, “We have a lot of work to do in the school year ahead and I know together all of us, student, government, teachers and business are going to do our part to improve education for St. Maarten.”
Arrindell was at the school to help reopen two classes that had been renovated using a donation from the Indian Merchants Association. The project has helped the government meet one of the many priorities it had set forth and saved them some money.
“You helped us out tremendously and we could not thank you enough,” Arrindell said to the IMA president Danny Ramchandani.
The minister then turned to the principal, teachers and students and said, “I also want to thank the teachers and students for your patience. We know you don’t have the ideal school yet, and while we are working very hard to give you the school you deserve, for now, you at least have a better space to work in. You have at least two brand new classrooms and I hope you’ll enjoy them. I’ll be visiting to see if you are enjoying them.”
The school’s principal – Mrs. Brooks – thanked the IMA from the bottom of the school’s collective hearts for approaching them in June and then sticking with the project until it was completed.
“It is welcomed, highly welcomed and they made sure it was done beautifully,” Brooks said.
IMA President Danny Ramchandani stressed the dual specialness of the day by pointing out that August 15 is India’s Independence Day. He went on thank the charity committee, led by Simran Bharwani, for “working really hard to collect all the money.”
“By doing this we are showing that we believe in education and we will remain committed to education whenever the minister of anyone calls on us. So please let us know what we can do and our support will be there 100 percent,” Ramchandani said.
Bharwani called this latest initiative a huge team effort within the association towards a school that it shares a 13 year old relationship with. The relationship began when one of the committee members, who worked at the school, began a food drive with another committee member. The pair, with aid from others would typically gather enough food and blankets to help 100 underprivileged families – many of them with a child at the school.
“When we began crafting our agenda for the year, one of the first things we did was to visit the school and as we went through all our charitable activities, this is one that we always came back to because of the close relationship between Prins Willem Alexander and the Indian community,” Bharwani said.
Acting Director of Public Education Glenderlin Davis was hailed various times for being supportive of the project and helping to coordinate its implementation.

Welcome Back
Schools welcomed varying numbers of new and returning students. They also adopted various themes. The theme at the St. Peters Hillside Christian School is Success begins new. The school’s principal Blondell Sprott also stressed that the focus of the school is creating more parental involvement.
“This year they are looking for more parental involvement, since it is their belief that once parents are involved students will excel which could only lead to huge successes. We intend to do whatever it takes to ensure that they reach their highest God given potential which will help in making them better citizens in the community,” Sprott said.

Messages
Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger is among those who had stressed the importance of education in Back to School message he issued at the weekend.
“Education offers the hope of a better tomorrow. The goal of our nation’s educational system is to provide excellent education for every child in every classroom. For the new school year, everyone has a role to play. We must all work together to support our teachers and parents and together we accelerate achievement for our children,” he wrote in his message.
He also said, “I would like to wish all the students good luck in the new school year. A quality education is the foundation that allows our children to pursue their dreams as adults as the journey continues.”
Safety on schools busses also featured in the back to school messages.
Head of the School Bus Inspection Section Martha Thewet said, “All school bus drivers are asked to follow the dress code while transporting school children to and from school; secondly, to also deal with un-rudely school children according to the code of conduct. The School Bus Inspection section is also appealing to parents to speak with their children about proper behavior while being transported on a school bus to and from school.”
“Safety is our main concern! Any bus driver who experiences any challenges while bussing school children, are asked to contact the school principal and the School Bus Inspection Section immediately. Everybody has to abide by the rules and regulations governing the safe transport of school children. We would like this new school year to be incident free. We don’t want to find school children carrying potential weapons and other things in their bags which do not belong there. You go to school to learn and become productive citizens of your community,” Thewet said on Sunday.

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