Joint New 2013 – 2014 School Year Message From the PM & Minister Lourens-Philip

"Educating today’s youth for tomorrow’s Sint Maarten"

Allow us, as Prime Minister and Minister of Education, to firstly extend our best wishes to all students, teachers and parents for a very successful school year 2013- 2014. It is our sincerest wish that we can all contribute to making this school year one that is a large success and one in which all; and by this we mean students, teachers and parents, will have an excellent and fruitful year.

This is an exciting time for the nation’s youth as another school year begins.

As a new school year begins, we want to reaffirm the commitment of Government to ensure that all students succeed. Education is the most important issue for the nation and our greatest national responsibility.

We would also like to underline how proud we are of our teacher’s commitment and resolve in their daily mission to build the future of this country via the young people of this nation. Young people who will be the future doctors, lawyers, politicians, architects, nurses, police officers, EMTs, firemen, business leaders, hotel and restaurant managers, carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, or whatever profession that will contribute to this country.

For many students this will be a year of a new school or new classroom, new teacher(s) and some new acquaintances. In the case of the latter, you have the choice as students to choose who will be your friends. Like every year we urge all students to do so carefully, for as young minds there might be influences which unfortunately will affect your performance and development as a student.

Some students unfortunately are returning to repeat last year’s program. To these students we would like to offer extra words of encouragement; do not place your energy in being disappointed, instead focus on graduating this year at the top of your class. We all know that you can indeed do it and all students are encouraged to do their best, notwithstanding last year’s results. If you closed off last year successfully, stay focused and do even better. If your results were discouraging, start the school year with a firm resolve to do better this year

As a nation, as a country, we must all redouble our efforts to improve education, because education is the vehicle for national, social and economic development. We must see this as our collective responsibility.

The new school year represents opportunity to develop academic, technical and vocational skills as well as artistic competencies.

In order to achieve good results this school year, we all need to work together. Therefore, we appeal to everyone, parents, teachers, support staff, the business community, volunteers, to work together for our children and youth.

Educational outcomes are what determine our future as a country. Therefore, we must understand what each of us must do throughout the school year.

As government we are asking Parents to renew their commitment to their child’s learning and encourage their children child to communicate daily regarding what is happening with them or around them in school. Encourage them to do their homework every day. Check their books and contact their teachers regularly or at least once a month to find out how they are doing. Take interest in the schooling of your children. Offer you children the support and dedication they need as they shape their young minds into becoming the citizens that this country needs.

Parents of older secondary school students need to be emotionally and physically there for their children, for even though the students sometimes act like and think that they are grown, they still need your support, your direction and your commitment to their future. Parents are very important in the educational process of their children. The development of healthy study and dietary habits contribute to the wellbeing of our students and this, parents have control over.

To the teachers/ educators we would say challenge these minds. Always remember that all children can learn. As a teacher you must be diligent in finding the keys that will unlock the potential of their minds and abilities.

The role of the community and especially the cooperate world must not be underestimated or understated. We would like to appeal to the business community to allow some flexibility in your workers’ time once it is for their children. I can’t make this call without asking parents: If granted to use the time for the children, visit the school, talk to the teachers. There is nothing like a personal visit or a call to your child’s school.

We see your role to be far more important than that of a financial donor to a school event. This is good and it is indicative of you showing some cooperate responsibility but we need your support to students to be expressed in terms of providing temporary internships, being reading mothers and fathers, volunteers for school excursions and school events, available for sharing expertise and abilities with students and morally supporting schools as they strive to excel.

We would like to commend the dedicated efforts of the Ministry of Education, Ministry VROMI and the additional persons that were hired to help get our educational institutions ready for today, August 12. Thank you to the school boards, teachers and support staff who also worked diligently in preparing their classes and schools for this new school year.

And finally, on this first school day, I would like to again encourage all of those rushing to get their children to school and to work, all of the bus drivers and those car-pooling to their appointments, all of those walking to school or to their places of employment, to do so carefully and to do so with respect to all that use the road. Let us make the opening of this academic year effortless and without incident, and join us in wishing all a very Happy 2013/ 2014 School Year.

Let us put all our collective energies in making the 2013 – 2014 school year a most successful and rewarding experience where our students can achieve their dreams through education.

May God guide our school children, May God Bless the youth of this nation.

The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams and the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports the Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip