Reader’s Opinion: Education the way forward

POSTED: 07/16/14 12:02 PM

Dear editor,

Sint Maarten has taken the necessary steps to ensure that the island was in line with the UNICEF Rights of the Child Act that states “that every child has the right to an education”.  This came with the introduction of the law on compulsory education.  This was a first and significant step as a new country.

As a country, we now have opportunities to further strengthen our education system, but we must first assess the management of the funds being budgeted for education.  After all a greater percentage of the annual budget goes towards this.

When elected to Parliament team National Alliance and I will continue to ensure that land is secured to continue to build the schools required to support the amount of children that are being born into our country each year.  The schools that are currently “bursting at the seams,” with a high student to teacher ratio, is a cry for expansion of particular schools.  A strong solution will be to build campuses in districts that allow for students to attend school closer to their district.  This in turn helps with the lessening of traffic into the Cul-de-Sac area during weekday morning drives.

Our elementary schools require the resources so that foundation based education can operate at its optimal level, which in turn helps our children to receive the best elementary education possible.

We have secondary high schools that require assistance in helping students realize the opportunities that exist for them in the future, whether that child seeks a strong academic university or a combination of sports, the arts with academics.  Any way you turn it, we are failing a majority of our teenagers in preparing for tomorrow.

When considering higher education, think of the issues we would face if a larger percentage of our children do not move on to college and or university and remain on island, how will our current structure support that group?

That is where I am willing and able to work with the University of St. Martin in realizing its vision of becoming a prestigious institute of higher learning, not only throughout the region, but in the world.

A great example is the American University of the Caribbean in Cupecoy, where students from abroad come to this university to realize their dreams as future doctors.  So I’m saying, ‘let’s get to work’ in building the University of St. Martin’s credibility and reach for new levels, where international students from around the world can come to our shores to educate themselves.  Picture it, a stamp of pride, to know that Sint Maarten can produce the worlds next doctor, engineer, astrophysicists etc… our people receiving top notch education and contributing not only to their own country but to the world on a whole.

I envision that in the next 5 years and heading into the upcoming decade (2020 – 2030) Sint Maarten will have a community that will have one University graduate per house hold.  Without this vision “a way forward” would be impossible.  We cannot afford to remain stagnant as a people.

There’s so much more, however let me end with this, all the above is the long term vision, but I, team National Alliance and by extension the people of Sint Maarten, will not see such vision, if the basic needs of our kids are not met.  We have kids who arrive to school hungry and not able to even operate at the level needed to succeed in a day need less a year of school.  We have parents who can’t afford to provide their kids with the basic essentials to meet the demands of school and it’s sad that these realities exist in a “modern time” where we coin phrases like, “no child left behind.”

We have lots to do. Let’s get to work Sint Maarten.

Cedric Peterson

National Alliance candidate # 11

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