Hurricane Irma has left our island in a critical state. The education infrastructure serves as one of the most important pillars in our society, and has suffered tremendously. In addition, we can also conclude that our (in) tangible cultural heritage and sport facilities are also critically damaged.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport has received many heartfelt messages as well as pledges from International, Caribbean and Kingdom counterparts, to assist in the restoration of St. Maarten’s educational structure. The Ministry ECYS has already received assistance from the Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), which assists in the event of a disaster. USAR and local contractors have currently been assisting at public and subsidized schools with the removal of debris, galvanize, and securing of the schools. The pro-active clean up approach of the St. Maarten Academy, Methodist Agogic Center, and Sister Borgia Primary School, along with parents and volunteers, is commendable, as it is imperative that our students return to school in a timely manner. As a Ministry, we are working with the subsidized schools to assess the structural damage. The pre exam and exam students remain a priority to return to school by the target date, however, any and all classes that are able to commence at that date will do so. Further updates will be announced periodically.
The reality is, hurricane Irma brought our nation back in time, and although undesired, we are confident in our ability to rebuild, as we are resilient people. Regaining some normalcy as soon as possible is our highest priority as the Government of St. Maarten; however, the youth of St. Maarten is the priority for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. Consequently, the transitional re-opening of the majority of the schools within the next two weeks (October 2nd, 2017), mental support, school materials and assistance to the parents, teachers, and students is a priority. Despite Hurricane Irma’s natural disaster, there are still persons attempting to delay the reopening of schools by trespassing and damaging the school property and stealing the school materials. Persons caught breaking and entering at the school properties will be held according and prosecuted by the laws of the land to the fullest extent.
In these times, our national identity is important to support the perseverance to rebuild St. Maarten and reinforce our strong nation. Minister Jacobs thanks all stakeholders, International, Caribbean and Kingdom counterparts, who have pledged assistance for the necessary strategic plans, ensure the speedy return of our students, teachers, management and staff back to school.
“We are currently planning how best to take care to meet the needs of our school management, teachers and staff in order for them to meet the needs of our students during this stressful time. Many who are away have pledged to return, and we pledge to offer the structural and emotional support needed to make this workable for all concerned. May God bless us all as we work to rebuild our St. Maarten even stronger than it was before. We are SXMStrong!”