Oranjestad – In order to help schools with strengthening of the (v) mbo (intermediate vocational education) in the Caribbean Netherlands and the establishment of mbo in the windward islands, RCN Department of Culture Education & Science (RCN/OCW) organized a work conference on St. Eustatius from 7th until 9th of November. Amongst the 40 participants, apart from representatives of the Ministries of Education Culture & Science (OCW) and Social Affairs & Employment (SZW), were also education professionals and representatives of the local business community. The motto of the conference was: “Hans together for vocational education”.
The conference was among others meant to come to clear vision on vocational education, translated into a concrete step-by-step plan and to realize a multidisciplinary cooperation between education and the business community, all of this taking into consideration the legal stipulations.
Thanks to the conference a valuable exchange took place between the different partners and the islands. The participation of DERPI (The Department of Educational Research, Policy and Innovation) from St. Maarten at the conference was also stimulating. In the three days it was expressed that the islands want to position themselves as each others brothers and sisters, support each other and want to keep each other abreast of developments. Cooperation and communication is the key to success. St. Maarten and Bonaire have concretely expressed they will pay a visit to the Gwendoline van Putten School before Christmas to lend practical support in the establishment of the mbo. Also, a group was created on the Internet set up to exchange files. Besides, each school has received more insight how to further develop their own vocational education.
The three islands have the need to improve the image of vocational professions. They are considering promoting several sectors which could be of importance for the local economy, but which have not yet peaked the interest of the students. Seeing the small scale of the islands it is further advisable for the students to postpone the choice for the professional sector for as long as possible and to in the first years offer them a broad as possible programme. This will work stimulating for the student as well as the teacher.