Better Education in Dutch language on Bonaire

Students on Bonaire will receive earlier and more intensive lessons in Dutch. Also, there will be effort for the preservation and strengthening of Papiamentu. This is what State Secretary Dekker reported today to the Second Chamber following an advice of the Dutch Language Union (NTU).

For the majority of pupils on Bonaire, Dutch is not the mother tongue. Their command of the Dutch is thereby often insufficient. As a result, they perform less well than their peers in the European Netherlands and they have a less smooth transfer to further education in The Netherlands. The State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science has asked the NTU how the children on Bonaire can learn Dutch better. Following this request the NTU conducted research on Bonaire and after detailed conversations with stakeholders released an advice.

The NTU notes that for students on Bonaire Dutch is an important language. The Dutch language is their gateway to knowledge development. The students should have mastered Dutch if they want to get their degree and if they want to move on to further education in The Netherlands. At the same time, the NTU found that Dutch for most children on Bonaire is a foreign language. They rarely hear or speak Dutch outside the school. For most children Papiamentu is the mother tongue and the language in which they communicate outside the school.

Give the children lessons as early as possible in Dutch, so advises the NTU. And make sure the children hear, speak, read and write plenty in Dutch. It is also important that the students, in all their educational activities, are involved in language development. Teachers must realize that Dutch, for most pupils, it is a foreign language. The teachers will therefore have to adapt their curriculum and teaching.

Although the advice focuses on Dutch, the NTU stressed that Papiamentu also has an important role. Papiamentu is an important and integral part of the identity of the Bonairean child. The NTU advises extra attention and dedication to the preservation and strengthening of Papiamentu inside and outside the school.
The State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science agrees with these opinions. He will discuss with the schools and the Public Entity of Bonaire how the advice of the NTU can be carried out. The State Secretary will, in any case, support the development of the learning for a student of Dutch as a foreign language. He will also continue to develop Papiamentu teaching material.