St. Maarten not ready for pre-academic year, Minister Samuel says it will not be mandatory

 St. Maarten not ready for pre-academic year,    Minister Samuel says it will not be mandatory

From left: Sint Maarten's Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Richard Panneflek (Who signed on behalf of St. Maarten Education Minister Rodolphe Samue), Curaçao Education Minister Sithree van Heydoorn, Aruban Minister Endy Croes and Netherlands Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf welcomed the new structure of the Strategic Education Alliance (SEA) on November 6.

PHILIPSBURG--Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel said on Wednesday that the pre-academic year will not be mandatory for students on St. Maarten. “In fact, in the case of St. Maarten, the University of St. Martin (USM) is not ready to start with a pre-academic year,” Minister Samuel explained.  

  The minister of education stressed that St. Maarten never signed off on a mandatory pre-academic year, as erroneously stated by The Daily Herald in Wednesdays’ edition of the newspaper.  

  The Steering Group Study Success Caribbean Students initiated the Strategic Education Alliance (SEA) programme. Through this programme, with a five-year trajectory, the four ministers of education within the Kingdom jointly want to increase the study success of Caribbean students. 

  During the four-country ministerial consultation in January 2023, a proposal for the start of the first three priorities was presented: a labour market analysis, mobility within the Kingdom (Kingdom Scholarship) and the Caribbean Academic Foundation Year (CAFY). 

  CAFY allows students from the islands to first study on their island for a year before they go to the Netherlands to pursue higher education. This is a joint pre-academic year that aims to better prepare students for a course at college or university. It should help to make it easier for students to move from senior secondary to higher education, at the academic as well as personal level. 

  In response to written questions from members of the House of Representatives in The Hague, the Dutch minister of Education, Culture and Science and the state secretary for Culture and Media informed that the implementation plan for the labour market analysis, the Kingdom scholarship and CAFY had been approved in April 2023. The four ministers also approved the associated budget, including the distribution key. 

  The Dutch ministers noted a month after the start of the new academic year that the CAFY in Aruba and Curaçao is a successful programme in which students participate at the University of Aruba and the University of Curaçao. Based on the joint experiences of Curaçao and Aruba, a programme is being further developed by the Strategic Education Alliance. 

  According to the letter from Minister Samuel to The Daily Herald requesting a correction, St. Maarten is not yet ready for the introduction of the CAFY. On November 6, 2023, Richard Panneflek signed the final conclusions of the Four-Country Consultation on behalf of Minister Samuel, which includes the establishment of the CAFY for the countries in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom for at least the next five years. 

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