Tenth annual book fair officially opens

POSTED: 06/1/12 12:23 PM

St. Maarten – The tenth annual book fair opened last night with a ceremony at the Belair Community Center. Shujah Reiph who founded the event in 2002 said in brief welcome remarks that the focus should be “on the kind of society we want to build.”

“Do we want to complain about young people and do nothing, or do we want to do something? We have decided to do something. We want to build a better St. Martin by maintaining the highest standards for this book fair.”
Under the theme Forward, Reiph said, the fair will touch on subjects like poverty, bullying and how to write your own story.
The opening ceremony was attended by among others Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Collectivite President Alain Richardson, University President Annelies van den Assem, Public Health Minister Cornelius de Weever and former Education Minister Rhoda Arrindel.
Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi publishers noted that the workshop that led to the establishment of the book fair had produced Brother Rich, Nana Sweetie – Creative Writing in St. Martin, the first collection of short stories written by local authors of its kind.
Annelies van den Assem stressed the importance for children to read and to understand what they are reading.
Alain Richardson noted that there are still people in our community who are functionally illiterate “due to a lack of opportunities.” He also said that illiteracy is not just a social problem, but that it affects all sectors.

“School dropout does not begin in high school. It begins in the early stages of education where the love of learning should begin.”
Prime Minister Wescot-Williams noted that the book fair has evolved into “a sharing of cultures of the Caribbean and beyond.”
Dr. Norman Girvan elaborated on challenges and opportunities in forwarding the Caribbean family in his keynote address.

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