Education minister stresses language proficiency

POSTED: 02/22/12 1:10 PM

St. Maarten – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport DR Rhoda Arrindell recently stressed her desire for all students to be proficient in up to four languages by the time the graduate from secondary school. In a speech at the opening of La Seman Dominicana she said it was her goal for young people to be proficient in English, Spanish, French and Dutch.
“As a linguist myself, I know the role language plays in bridging the gap among our Caribbean people, and bringing us closer together,” Arrindell said.
The fact that Spanish is on the list is recognition of the fact that Spanish is the second most spoken language and because of “the historical ties that have bound us for more than a century as with the attractiveness of the dominicana for the St. Martin man.”
“The linguistic versatility of the St. Martiner is now evidently being acquired by a new generation of dominicanos who were either born here or have grown up and gone to school here. This generation can move effortlessly from speaking Spanish to their parents at home to sharing a joke with their peers on the playground in English, or answering a question in Dutch posed by their teacher at school. They are as St. Martiner as they come,” the minister said.
Later she’d add, “Your glorious history and traditions have not only enriched us here, but in return our own culture and versatility have also enriched you. This mutual enrichment is at the heart of what makes us one Caribbean family. Imagine what it would be like if we were to build on this together.”
Arrindell also used the speech to stress that compulsory education is the law and that “every child of school going age, regardless of his or her immigration status should be in school, not packing groceries or loitering around during school hours.”
“Truancy officers of my ministry will soon be deployed to ensure that this law is implemented to the letter, and parents found wanting in this regard, will be fined,” the minister said.
“Also, you may wish to take note that it is my policy as Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, to encourage studying in the Caribbean region. For this year, there is one student who has applied for study financing to study in the Dominican Republic. I am sure the numbers will only increase in the future,” Arrindell also said.

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