History text book presented to St Maarten Academy

In the presence of Princess Beatrix the history text book “Unity and diversity – 200 years Kingdom. Netherlands and the six Caribbean islands presented in dates” (“Eenheid en verscheidenheid – 200 jaar Koninkrijk. Nederland en de zes Caribische eilanden in jaartallen”) was handed over on Wednesday in Sint Maarten. Twenty students of the Sint Maarten Academy received a first copy from the chairperson of the National Committee 200 years Kingdom, Ank Bijleveld.

“Two hundred years Kingdom means that Netherlands and the Caribbean share a great deal of mutual history. It is important to know this history, because that is the only way we will be able to understand the trends of today and build the future together”, the National Committee chairperson declared.

This fits right with the theme of the Kingdom Youth Parliament (Koninkrijksjeugdparlement – KJP) which is currently held (May 20th to 22nd) in Sint Maarten. Fifty young people debate about what binds us in the Kingdom, now and in the future. The KJP is the third (national) event with regard to the celebration of 200 years of Kingdom.

The book is about the shared history in the Kingdom in the period from 1813 to now. However, the time from the discovery of the islands by the Spaniards is discussed as well. The focus is on the historical moments in the relationship between the islands internally and the relationship between the islands and the Netherlands. It is a mix of governmental affairs and important events in the field of sports, culture, economy and the society.

The timeline appears on the occasion of the 200 year celebration and is intended to be a permanent reminder for the pupils in the higher classes of VSBO/Mavo and in junior HAVO/VWO. It also lends teachers a helping hand in digging deeper into the history of the Kingdom.

After the presentation at the Sint Maarten Academy, some 11 thousand copies of the book will also be distributed to other schools in Sint Maarten and the five other Caribbean islands. To make it as accessible as possible, the work is translated into English, and Papiamentu and Papiamento.

A frequently heard comment in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom is that the young people on the islands often know more about the Netherlands than vice versa. That resulted to be indeed the case at the opening of the Kingdom Youth Parliament with Princess Beatrix on Tuesday. Many who were present emphasized the importance of attention for the Kingdom in the educational curriculum. Dwayne Griffith from Sint Maarten, one of the many youngsters participating at the KJP, phrased it as follows: ““I learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow”. The National Committee is therefore looking into the options for to spread the book also under schools in the Netherlands

The historical timeline was commissioned by the National Committee to journalist and historian René Roodheuvel. He is a former correspondent for Radio Netherlands Worldwide (Radio Nederland Wereldomroep) and the NOS on the islands, and in his youth he lived for some years on Curaçao. He is also member of the Caribbean workgroup of the National Committee 200 years Kingdom.