Opinion: Educational developments on Saba: arguments for a “Brede School”

Dear Editor

I am happy to read that both school boards have now finally made a decision to start working together and to see where they can possibly meet each other and integrate. After all, we have only one primary and one secondary school on the island.

While being director of the educational department of Saba in 2010, I already suggested then merging both school boards and to create a so-called Brede School. A most logical structure that could only benefit learning for students.

This same merge of schools was already established in the nineties when I was principal of the Sacred Heart School. The then Anglican kindergarten in the Bottom was integrated within the Sacred Heart School kindergarten in the Windwardside. This was later moved to St. Johns to create a Primary School setting starting from 4 years to 12 years where children would naturally move from one grade to the next.

Maybe it is also a good time now to start looking again at constructing a completely new school complex where all students can be accommodated.

In 2011 a study trip was made to The Netherlands focussing on De Brede school (www.bredeschool.org). Plans were developed to construct a completely new educational complex located on Troy Hill. Unfortunately, these plans were never materialized. Resulting in years of patching up and expanding classrooms. We all know that the building of the SCS is not constructed as a school but as a hospital. For years now, money has been put into this building to make it look like a school, but believe me, that will never get the status of a fully operational secondary school. I confirmed this the more since I was principal of the SCS from 2012 – 2014.

The Sacred Heart School was constructed in the eighties. This building as well has constantly asked for upgrades and expansions in order to meet the growing educational demands over time.

As an Island Council member, I have asked the Executive Council several times to seriously look into the possibility to construct a completely new school instead of spending monies on buildings that will never meet the educational demand for the coming future. After all, education is an ever-changing process in order to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. We teach and prepare students now for jobs we even don’t know yet what they will be.

The excuse that the ministry of education OCW would not be willing to support the finances to construct a new educational complex cannot be excepted since it was them who constructed a completely new secondary school on Bonaire in early 2010 and renovated the Gwendolyn van Putten school on Statia to meet future educational needs.

In my humble opinion, I believe that our Saban youth deserves much better than what is offered now.

Therefore I am a strong believer that with a merged schoolboard, integrated educational curricula, properly trained staff, and nowadays modern educational facilities to meet the future, the youth of Saba can benefit and be educated for years to come.

The question is what to do with the current buildings? Simple. Develop them into a completely new urban living complex where young families, singles, and many others can have a comfortable living.

Hemmie van Xanten

(Shortened by Editor)

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