MAHO--The School Board for Secondary Education SVOBE closed the curtains on the year-long anniversary celebration for its two schools on Thursday, with a well-attended Educational Symposium themed: “Education for the 21st century and beyond.”
The focus was on rethinking education for future development of St. Maarten. The symposium was the last event held for the celebrations to mark Milton Peters College (MPC) 40th anniversary and Sundial School’s 50th anniversary.
MPC and Sundial Director Wim de Visser said the attendance exceeded expectations. While coordinators were expecting about 327 attendees, a total of 360 registered. All public and government subsidized high schools in St. Maarten were represented at the forum.
The keynote address was delivered by international leader in education technology Alan November, who spoke about learning and developing in the digital age: who owns the learning, which is also the name of his book. A copy of his book was presented to attendees of the conference at the end of the forum. University of St. Martin (USM) President Dr. Francio Guadeloupe rewound the clock in history and spoke extensively about teaching and learning in St. Maarten, how it used to be.
Education Minister Silveria Jacobs told the packed audience in the hall at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino that children play on everything and while they are playing on them, they are learning. “That is something that we, the immigrants to the technology, have to try to and understand. They are learning. We just have to direct them to ensure that they are learning what they also need to survive.
“Every day in education, we are preparing them for a world that we do not know. Twenty to 30 years ago, none of the educators could have imagined that education could have been what it is today or know that children would learn at the paces that they do.”
Echoing the popular quote “Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world,” Jacobs said the rate at which the world is changing “we must use IT [Information Technology, Ed.] to keep up.”
Jacobs expressed hope that the symposium will motivate and energize participants and make them realise that they too can learn. “I am imploring you open your minds, hearts and ears. It will be a challenge at times, but if we are to be that learning city that we are striving to become, if we continue to want to bring people to St. Maarten not just for sun sea and sand, but for the talent and the intelligence of the people that they can continue to grow despite the challenges, it will start with you. Your attitude will determine how successful your student will be – your attitude as a school board, school and as a teacher. You can make the difference. You embrace it and they will teach you,” Jacobs said.