[lg policy] St. Maarten: Arrindell highlights language policy and compulsory education at UNESCO conference

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 3 14:47:19 UTC 2011

Arrindell highlights language policy and compulsory education at
UNESCO conference

POSTED: 10/31/11 12:36 PM

PARIS – Languages and their impact on learning and the implementation
of compulsory education were core elements of St. Maarten’s national
statement to the 36th General Conference of the United Nations
Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO). The statement was
delivered on Saturday by Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and
Youth Affairs, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, who led the country’s delegation
to the meeting.

“Education is the key to the success of the new nation we are trying
to build on the foundation of a virile, resilient, and dynamic
culture. The language issue on St. Martin has been at the heart of our
education reform process. We are a multi-lingual society, but despite
being a half-Dutch, half-French condominium, English is the
mother-tongue of our people, while Spanish is the second most spoken
language,” Arrindell said
“Cognizant of the role language plays in our education system, as well
as in the development of our nation, my government is pursuing a
policy of linguistic versatility, which seeks to make each student who
completes secondary education proficient in at least three to four
languages — English, Dutch, French, and Spanish. This, we believe, is
the way to go for the new Caribbean man and woman,” the minister

Arrindell told the conference that implementing compulsory education
is challenging because of the presence of undocumented immigrants, but
assured that the government has separated education from immigration
and allowed for all children to go to school. “Compulsory education in
St. Martin, however, is still a work in progress. We will be calling
on UNESCO to assist us where necessary so that, hopefully, we could
soon report that the process has been completed,” Dr. Arrindell said.

Turning to culture, the Minister stated, “Culture, Madame President,
is inseparable from identity, and identity is not only about who we
are, but also about who we want to be. St. Martiners are a resilient
people who know that true peace is not only the absence of war, but
rather an indispensable condition for all of us, big and small, rich
and poor, to pursue happiness and live in harmony with one another and
with our environment.”
She’d add, “That peace starts and must grow and flourish in the minds
of every man and woman, indeed of every child and teenager. If there
is a message a small Caribbean island like St. Martin can offer the
world, it is that we must focus on what unites us as a human family
rather than on what divides us. There is no other way to create a
culture of peace.”

Arrindell also assured that St. Maarten will not be approaching the
multilateral organization with “a shopping list” of desires. “Culture
is work and work is what we are here to do. We hope to benefit from
the experience and expertise UNESCO can offer us, specifically in the
areas of tangible and intangible heritage,” Arrindell said.

Several heads of delegations congratulated the minister on what one
colleague called “a magnificent speech.” Ambassador of the Kingdom of
the Netherlands to UNESCO Robert Zeldenrust was among those who
listened to Dr. Arrindell and congratulated her on a “very good
speech.” Arrindell capped her very busy week at the UNESCO
headquarters with a courtesy call on the Director – General, Irina
Bokova, who once again, congratulated her personally for St. Martin’s
admission as an associate member and offered her all the assistance
the island might require from the organization.

-- http://www.todaysxm.com/2011/10/31/arrindell-highlights-language-policy-and-compulsory-education-at-unesco-conference/
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