Category Archives: Community

Nederlandse stukje van de editor Annemiek “Niet lullen, maar poetsen!”

Ik lees dat Dhr. Zaandam, die constitutionele zaken in zijn portefeuille heeft en in de commissie die de evaluatie aan het voorbereiden is, op de televisie in het programma “Talking Blues” heeft gezegd dat St. Eustatius te kampen heeft met een “democratic deficit”.

Ik ga ervan uit dat Zaandam hiermee bedoeld dat de mensen op St. Eustatius niet genoeg te stemmen hebben: ze worden niet ten volle gerepresenteerd op de een of andere manier.

De mensen op St. Eustatius kunnen meedoen met de Tweede Kamerverkiezingen, ze stemmen dus mee wat voor centrale regering Nederland krijgt.  De mensen op St. Eustatius kunnen ook meedoen met de lokale verkiezingen, ze doen dat niet tegelijk met de Nederlandse gemeenteraadsverkiezingen, maar tegelijk met de Provinciale verkiezingen in Nederland.

De reden waarom de eilanden tegelijk hun lokale verkiezingen hebben als de provinciale staten in Nederland, weet ik niet.

Ik weet wel dat er een soort democratisch deficit is bij de Provinciale verkiezingen. We zouden recht moeten hebben op een stem bij de Provinciale verkiezingen, maar wij horen niet bij een Provincie.

Het ingewikkelde staatkundige stelsel van Nederland met een Eerste en een Tweede kamer, heeft als regel dat de leden van de Provinciale Staten kiezen voor de Eerste kamerleden. De burgers kiezen die leden van de Provinciale Staten, getrapte verkiezingen.

Bij ons kiezen de commissioners voor de Eerste kamerleden heb ik begrepen. Dat is raar, want wij hebben die commissioners daar niet voor aangewezen, we hebben niet een nieuwe verkiezing gehad.

We missen dus eigenlijk een verkiezing: die van de Provinciale Staten.

Ik zou zeggen: daar zijn twee oplossingen voor. Of we gaan deel uitmaken van een Provincie in Nederland, of we maken onze eigen Provincie.

We hebben wel een bestuurslaag tussen het lokale bestuur en de Nederlandse regering, want we hebben een Rijksvertegenwoordiger.

Ik pleit ervoor dat de volgende Rijksvertegenwoordiger een raad krijgt waar de BES burgers voor kunnen stemmen. Evenredig met het aantal inwoners van de verschillende eilanden. Twee van Saba, twee van Statia en vier van Bonaire. Deze mensen controleren de Rijksvertegenwoordiger. De Rijksvertegenwoordiger krijgt echte Provinciale taken. Zij of hij  heeft het overzicht over de energiemaatschappijen, vliegvelden en havens en is betrokken bij veiligheid.

Als ook mensen die in Nederland wonen op de kieslijsten kunnen staan, zou dat het democratische deficit totaal schoonpoetsen.

Nogmaals, ik ben geen staatkundige, het is maar een idee.

Ik ben ook geen Rotterdammer, anders zou ik zeggen: “Niet lullen, maar poetsen!!”




How to get the education system to work for the Statian child: A pedagogical perspective.

Drs.  Jean Marie Molina


St. Eustatius stands yet again at a historical breaking point. The continuing low (academic) achievement of children has forced the community at large to take a critical look at the core of its educational system. Current debates center on a possible change of the language of instruction from Dutch to English. However both supporters and critics agree that change must come if the Statian child is going to succeed (academically). This contribution does not focus on the discussion of the language of instruction. Instead, the author has chosen to highlight the dilemmas in the education system from a pedagogical or rather child-centered point of view. The aim: to focus on aspects that have an equal if not more profound effect on academic performance than the language of instruction. First off this article deals with the influence of parents, followed by the community and educators.  It will end with some conclusive remarks and recommendations on how to the improve the current situation.

The role of parents

Ultimately parents are responsible for their child’s development. Various research outcomes as well as community studies have shown that parenting practice has a strong influence on a child’s life.  Parents are also their child’s first teacher. Children are born with an almost instinctive need to acquire knowledge. From the moment their eyes are open, they are constantly seeking new ways to learn and grow. Within the first five years of its life, a child makes an incredible learning journey.  Most child psychologists, parenting experts and educationists agree that these first five years of a child’s life are of vital importance to its future development. In these years, children learn to know themselves, their surroundings and their community. They learn rules of socially acceptable behavior. They also internalize the cultural norms and values, presented to them by their parents.

A child’s attitude towards learning is an aspect that is  strongly influenced by parental practices. In other words, parents are the ones who teach their children whether learning is something positive or negative. Something to love or something to be shunned.  Parents are also responsible for creating a home environment that is beneficial to learning. By providing their children with (educational) toys and books as well as having discussions, going on excursions, and exploring nature, parents instill in children the necessity of seeking knowledge and understanding the world in which they live.  Such experiences prove vital when children attend school. When brought up in homes where learning is spontaneous and natural, children do better academically than their  peers  whose home environment is less stimulating.

Parents’ belief systems also have great impact on how well their child does in school.  Fan and Chen (1999) found that parental aspiration or expectation for education achievement are strongly related to academic achievements. This means that whether a child does well in school depends to a large extent on whether their parents want or expect them to succeed. The relationship between these two factors is a logical one. Children usually want to please their parents.

In their early years they learn that doing what makes their parents happy, makes them happy too. So if their parents provide them with an home environment  where learning is seen as something important, expect them to accept this as a given fact and to do well in school, they will.

The influence that parents have on their child’s learning experience does not stop there. In his study Jeynes (2005) found that parental involvement is related to all academic variables.  He states that parents’ behaviour, belief systems and attitudes help determine how well their child does in various subjects, as well as their cognitive development during school.  Parents who raise their children in a loving, and  rich learning environment are investing in their child’s scholastic success.

The role of the community

Not all children are raised in loving and healthy environments. Some children grow up in a home environment that is stressful.  Common factors within a stressful home environments include domestic violence, low verbal and social interactions, physical and psychological abuse and neglect. These factors cause stress in children, and subsequently hamper academic achievement. However, such situations need not limit the child’s learning experience nor outcome.  A study published in 1996 by the Journal of Negro Education found that African-American high school seniors were able to achieve in school despite stress factors in their home and social environment .The key lay in the development of resilience. Resilience refers to a child’s ability to cope with and overcome hurdles in its development. In the case of the African American students three factors significantly influenced their resilience. Two of which will be discussed here.  First, “interaction with and involvement of committed, concerned adults and educators in their life”. Second, “the development of two personality traits: perseverance and optimism”.

When a child has access to persons who care for him or her and who can take over the nurturing role in their life, they develop resiliency. If we were to extrapolate  the findings of this report to the Statian context we could draw the same conclusions. In order for the Statian child who faces stress factors in the home environment to become resilient he needs concerned adults and educators in his life. This is where the community plays its biggest role. When members of the community open up their homes, and make it possible for a child to have a safe place where it can be itself they are investing in that child’s future.  Through (after) school projects, extracurricular activities and a general environment of warmth and acceptance, the community acts as a net which catches and launches the falling child back into its rightful place. The Statian child needs adults who are willing to work with him or her, to teach and lead preferably by example.

Besides this it is also important for children to be taught perseverance and optimism.  The  modern world we live in, teaches children to seek instant gratification. If they want something, they should have it immediately. This approach has caused that many children have not learned the importance of perseverance. Of not giving up, but rather keeping at something diligently until it bares fruit. Success in school or anywhere else requires long and hard work. When children live in a world surrounded by adults with a sound work ethic, they learn that almost everything is worth it in the long run. When the government and leaders are dedicated to their tasks and they work at it with all their might, constantly keeping their eyes on the desired results, they teach perseverance by example. The same goals are achieved when leaders remain optimistic despite things not always going their way. If they believe in a cause, and work for it,  it shows character and determination. But more importantly, it instills soundness of character in our children. A trait they will need if they are ever to be (academically) successful.

The role of the Teacher

There is a constant discussion on whether teachers have a child raising duty. However, whether we may want to accept it or not, teachers play an important role in a child’s learning, growth, and  development. Teachers share knowledge of the world with children. They are in a position to form a child’s mind. They are often role models to their students and as such are looked to for help and guidance.  In order for a teacher to educate a child, he or she must genuinely care for and be interested in that child’s welfare.  Children, especially young ones are very intuitive and can sense how adults feel about them. The feedback they receive when they read their teacher is what will ultimately decide if and to what extent they open up themselves to them. A teacher who is generally concerned about a child helps it to be academically successful. When a teacher believes a child can learn, it is reflected in his or her attitude, behavior and speech towards the child.  A child who feels his or her teacher cares about him, is empowered, feels capable and  does better in school.

How do these factors improve Statia’s education System?

Educating a child is a cooperative task. It only yields fruits when all stakeholders in a child’s life work together towards the goal of development and (academic) success.  The relationship between parents, the community and educators forms the foundation of a sound education system. It provides the perfect nesting ground for (academic) excellence. Parents, who love their children and are concerned about their welfare, will be involved within the community and their child’s school. They have an open and trusting relationship with the teachers. They are aware of their child’s needs and make the necessary adjustments in the home environment to ensure that those needs are met. The same goes for the community and for teachers. A community that cares about its children makes sure it is a safe place for them to live in. Adult interactions with children are tainted with warmth and appreciation. Policies are in place to make sure that children are afforded many learning opportunities. Community programs are culturally relevant and focused on enhancing the child’s sense of value and belonging. The community must also take care of and respect the child’s parents. Parents who feel accepted and supported by the members of the community are less stressed. They know they can count on the support of their families, loved ones, other concerned adults and the community at large when they need them. This stimulates their belief in themselves and their ability to properly raise their child.

The same goes for teachers and schools. If children in Statia are to do well in school, there must be good quality teaching material, which takes into account ethnic diversity and the cultural background of the child. The curriculum must not be only aimed at gaining formal knowledge. But must also include tacit knowledge. There must be room for the development of a positive identity, self-image and self-esteem. The Statian child must know where he comes from so that he can decide what his place is to be in the world. Teachers must be loving, patient, determined, optimistic and when necessary critical. Their job is to point out to parents where there is need for improvement while simultaneously working with parents to bring about the improvement in question.

To do this,  teachers need professionalization trajectories that are school based and school focused. Education leaders must be well seasoned in didactics. In laymen’s terms: they must know what they are doing. But more importantly they must care about what they are doing. Teachers need the support of good quality and well placed education policies to ensure that they can do their job the way it needs to be done. They also need a support system where they can raise their grievances as well as gain support  to implement their education programs.

Conclusive remarks.

If the education system of Statia is to work for the Statian child it needs to be overhauled. The need for overhaul is not to undo the works of others but rather to fortify and expand the foundation. All parties who play a major role in the child’s welfare must work together in pursuit of what should be their common goal: a bright future for Statia’s child.  Each child in Statia is unique and different.  This uniqueness must be imbedded into the education system if it is to work for him or her.  There must be support and a profound willingness to work together present in all parties. The dynamics of the Statian culture must be taken into consideration when the curriculum is constructed.  The Statian child must know himself if he is to know the world. Cultural identity and cultural context are very necessary in the curriculum, as they contribute significantly to learning experiences and success.. Besides formal knowledge, the curriculum must  teach personality traits such as perseverance, optimism, positive self-esteem and a  positive self-image.

The task may seem daunting but it need not be. Statia has a rich diaspora as well as a vast amount of unused resources which can be consulted and pooled to support and provide relevant expertise and implementation. Men and women willing to invest their talent, to ensure (academic) success for Statia’s children.  A good start on the road to creating a tailor made education system which sufficiently prepares the Statian child for his  or her place in the world could be an educational convention where all stake holders, as well as other interested persons                                     come together to discuss, decide and plan  how the education system in Statia should be constructed, and what the role of each stakeholder should be. Simultaneously the subject of the language of instruction can be dealt with. Thereby ensuring a holistic approach to the various bottlenecks in the present  education system. By coming together, with an attitude of optimism and perseverance, all major stakeholders can invest and protect the best of Statia; it’s children.

(Jean Marie Molina was born and raised on Statia, has studied child development at the University of Leiden and works as coordinator “praktijkgestuurd leren” at the “Hogeschool Rotterdam”, she is married and has two children.)


Statia, nepotism and lack of transparency

By Koos Sneek

Date: February 25 2014

The signals are there that the coalition on Statia, consisting of the UPC party and independent council members Lijfrock and Merkman is sailing in rough water. While there are so many urgent pending matters to deal with, the activities that are coming to light lately mostly seem to have to do with private matters such as bonuses to political cronies, salary advances to elected officials, extensive travel patterns of commissioner Tearr surrounded by a lack of transparency and securing of positions within government of political appointees after the elections to be held in March 2015.


To continue, individuals are hired by government on a so-called aankoopbon as such avoiding the requirement in the WOLBES that the Kingdom Representative is to approve the appointments. Taxes are not withheld from the income of these individuals, while it is also unclear if these persons have a properly registered business, a business license, a registration at the tax department and are paying their taxes. Also at no time these jobs are advertised, allowing others to apply, or given out for public bids allowing Statia companies to bid on them. There can be nothing against persons getting jobs, including those who are having the jobs now, or companies getting contracts but government has to follow transparent and open procedures.


Rumors are that documents are forged by the executive assistant to one of the commissioners in her own benefit. The commissioner responsible for personnel affairs denies that the executive council has taken certain official decisions on personnel appointments or he is at least not aware of this. Executive council decisions are taken without the underlying documents such as the advice from the personnel department or the responsible director. How can this happen? A very big question mark needs to be placed by the role of the acting island secretary in all of this. This functionary is responsible for the preparation of all documents to be handled by the executive council. Why did she overlook this? Why did she not properly inform the executive council members? Or did she?


What is the role of the three council members, who are supporting this government? Are they aware of this wheeling and dealing and are they condoning it? A few coalition meetings are held and we learned that it did not go well. But one can imagine that they are in a jam. Do they have to get rid of a crony who falsifies documents, or reprimand an acting island secretary, who is a family member? Can they risk for the government to fall? What are the alternatives? The DP back in government? This of course needs to be avoided at all cost. Should they seek the support from Franklin, who has already expressed his desire to see Clyde return as commissioner? I doubt most of them see that as a good idea either. And whose head then has to role? Zaandam, Tearr or maybe both?


The meetings of the Central Committee are finally open for the public. It can be noticed that now the practice is being used to decide that some matters are discussed in this committee behind closed doors. Recently the agenda point on the IND was discussed behind closed doors. On Thursday February 27 the agenda point on the fiber optic cable will also be dealt with behind closed doors. No explanation as why these matters are so sensitive that they need to be dealt with behind closed doors. What is all this secrecy about? I can remember that I heard the commissioners mention, when they entered government, that transparency was to be their trademark. The case around the fiber optic cable has regularly been in the media, loads of questions are publicly asked in the second chamber and answers are given by the minister, yet our representatives apparently are of the opinion that it is in our own interest to prevent the public to hear what they are discussing about these topics. The subject with the IND was an informative meeting whereby representatives from this service were to answer questions from the members of the island council. Why was there a need for secrecy to decide to discuss this agenda point behind closed doors? What has happened with the professed transparency?


To be continued….




In this blog I want to share personal observations. The first observation is Hemmie van Xanten. He lives on Saba, is director of the secondary school there and is building a boutique hotel, he is already half way and business is running. What do I like about him? He wants to stay. He wants to build a legacy of what he did with that school and how he set up that hotel. He has made Saba his home.

Statia needs directors and teachers like that.

The other observation was a close by observation of my husband. He taught history at the Gwendoline van Putten for 4 and 5 Havo. In the year we came, the 4havo (tweede fase bovenbouw) started for the first time. He is a history teacher and thought he was going to teach history. I don’t remember how it went, I think they also spoke about “maatschappijleer” and “aardrijkskunde”, but they never mentioned “afdelingsleider”. When he came to the island it was decided he had to give those three subjects and be the afdelingsleider of the havo.

I think I can speak for all of the havo 4 en havo 5 children who had him as history teacher that they learned a lot from Mr. Kusters. I think that when they grow old, the first thing they remember about Mr. Kusters is that he taught them about Martin Luther King and the black power movement. He talked with them about slavery and he let them discover their roots in a portfolio they had to make.

The lessons my husband gave, were in English. He had to talk English to reach to the children and have them clearly understand what he is saying.

Unfortunately things went wrong in the school. The same things that repeat itself, year after year. If my husband would have given the respect and freedom he needed, he would have stayed on the island. He always said this job was the most interesting job he had ever had. He liked the students.

What happened to my husband, also happened to my husband. There are many students who will have good memories of both Mr. Kusters and Mr. Kerkhoff. These men spoke English fluently as if it was their mothertongue. That really helped a lot!

I hope next time the board is more carefull with people’s abilities. See them for what they are and use the strength. You need to be very intelligent to do that. I think each member of the board might have some sort of intelligence, but not the intelligence for managing talents of people and help them grow. And also not the intelligence to understand what children need. Maybe some of them have, but as a functioning board, they do not. There has to be a radical move to change this and that only happens when good teachers stay on the island.

Blues Oddysee

I am watching a documentary “Blues Oddysee” with Bill Wyman, not that I sit besides Bill Wyman watching it, but he is one of the key persons that gets interviewed. Bill Wyman, bass player of “the greatest Rock n Roll band on earth”, the Rolling Stones. For the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry was their most important inspiration, they wanted to be like him. Bill Wyman has a lot of knowledge of the origins of the blues. Some one said about Chuck Berry’s songs:  “They are little vignets of his life”, descriptions of what happened to him and those are the kinds of songs the Rolling Stones also tried to make.

Chuck Berry singing: “You can’t catch me” 1956

chuck berry

chuck berrychuck berry









This Odyssee of the blues starts during slavery, in the Mississipi delta, where the slaved people had to find a way to cope with their misery. Bill Wyman talks about his attraction to that music: “In whatever mood your in, when you listen to the blues, you get to feel good. It always makes you feel good.” (I have to check if that is the exact quote of what he said)

The blues travels to a lot of places and an Odyssee of the Blues promises rare footage and interesting storytelling.

Early Childhood education

Today I read in the NRC next that municipalities in the European Netherlands want to merge “peuterspeelzalen”, “voorschoolse educatie” and “kinderopvang” into one institute: “Integrale Kindcentra”. “Kinderopvang” is used by parents that work, a “peuterschool” is mostly used by parents that have time for their children, but want to prepare them for elementary school. In these “peuterspeelzalen” the program “Voorschoolse educatie” (pre school education)  can be offered and is mostly used for children who have language arrears.

The research Nobel prize winner James Heckman has done, shows that in the US, every dollar the government invests in such preschool education brings in 8 dollars in the long term; people that have had early childhood education end up with a better job, more money and a healthier lifestyle then people who didn’t have pre school education.

You can see a short youtube movie about that research here:, if you have the time, this presentation by the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio Schubert  is worth seeing:

On St. Eustatius, there is to my knowledge no extra funding available for early childhood education like the funding for “voorschoolse educatie” in the European part of the Netherlands.

Seeing the problems in education on the island it may be wise to look into this matter.



Plasterk onder vuur, lees het ISB rapport

Hieronder een column van de website Joop, van historicus Han van der Horst.

Hij zegt dat hij liever een debat ziet over het voorzieningenniveau op de eilanden, dan over het rapport dat Plasterk sinds november verborgen heeft gehouden.

Daar komt hij op een goed moment mee, want in 2015 wordt de huidige status van de BES eilanden geevalueerd. In 2010 zijn Bonaire, St. Eustatius en Saba van status veranderd. Waren ze eerst deel van het land Nederlandse Antillen, met een centrale overheid op Curacao, sinds 2010 is de centrale overheid in Nederland. Deze nieuwe status is een soort overgang; de centrale overheid (Den Haag) is nu rechtstreeks verantwoordelijk voor onderwijs, veiligheid en gezondheidszorg (en de Tweede Kamer kan de ministers van OCW, veiligheid en justitie en VWS), de eilanden beslissen zelf hoe ze hun economie gaan ontwikkelen. Wel gaat er geld van Nederland naar die eilanden en dat geld is geoormerkt. Han van der Horst zet niet voor niks (tien!) achter “tien” ministeries. Ik had toen de berichtgeving over de nieuwe status begon, niet het idee dat zoveel ministeries zich ermee zouden gaan bemoeien.

In het rapport van het ISB team, dat Plasterk vijf (vijf!) keer heeft laten reviseren, wordt uitgelegd dat dat contact met die minsteries “verticaal” loopt. Op de eilanden weten ze vaak niet wat ambtenaren komen doen, ze hebben een plan gemaakt, zijn ergens mee bezig en het lokale bestuur is niet helemaal op de hoogte wat ze van plan zijn. Ik denk dat ze zoiets bedoelen.

Een belangrijk probleem is “communicatie” en daarom was de aanbeveling om zo snel mogelijk Dhr. Stolte te ontslaan. Stolte zou als vertegenwoordiger van Den Haag ervoor moeten zorgen dat alle partijen op de hoogte zijn van nieuw beleid, dat nieuwe plannen een platform hebben, dat er openheid, transparantie is. Dat lukte hem totaal niet, je leest in het rapport dat men elkaar wantrouwt en dat er soms helemaal NIET gecommuniceerd wordt. Dat betekent dat mensen “maar wat doen”.

Het is een ernstig gebrek aan daadkracht dat de beslissing is genomen dat Stolte pas per 1 mei weg gaat. Men is nu boos op Plasterk en dat is terecht want hij faalt, maar als ik Stolte was en dat rapport had gelezen, zou ik direct mijn ontslag hebben ingediend.

Dat is even de point van dit rapport denk ik.

De evaluatie is in 2015 en volgens het rapport moet bij die evaluatie ook de taken en verantwoordelijkheden van de Rijksvertegenwoordiger onder de loep genomen worden en hier is een ander document waarin uitgelegd wordt waar de evaluatie allemaal nog meer over gaat. Het voorzieningenniveau staat daar ook bij. Het is een belangrijk onderdeel van de evaluatie, vooral voor de kwetsbare groepen in die samenlevingen.





Statia strengthens ties with Haarlem


Statia strengthens ties with Haarlem

Haarlem, January 20, 2014


It was the first time a delegation from St Eustatius met civil servants and Mayor and Aldermen from the city of Haarlem. This first meeting was warm and fruitful – and the new ties between the two municipalities are strengthened immediately. In the Mayor hall  Alderman Jan Nieuwenburg received commissioner Carlyle Tearr (Statia).
During the meeting, an initiative of Baud Schoenmaeckers (Synergos Communicatie) and Charles Lindo (Statia Tourism), possibilities to cooperate were explored. There are ideas on developing sustainable tourism, education, employment  and marketing the island.

The sharing of ideas,  knowledge and expertise are the first steps in the process of cooperation. Both parties expect a fruitful and exciting cooperation.    

 statia haarlem








From left to right: Natasja Slewe (International Relations Haarlem), Charles Lindo (Statia Tourism), Leontine Splinter (Haarlem Marketing), Carlyle Tearr (Statia Government), Baud Schoenmaeckers (Synergos Communicatie), Jan Nieuwenburg (City of Haarlem), Fenny Traksel (City of Haarlem) and Margreet van der Woude (City of Haarlem).


“Dumbing us Down”

Koert Kerkhoff has published this for consideration:

In his controversial 1992 book Dumbing Us Down, — now in its tenth edition — award-winning teacher John Taylor Gatto puts forward a decidedly different view of what needs to be done to improve our schools. He argues that kids need less school rather than more, that our current system of education stifles the natural curiosity and joy of learning, and that between school, television and the internet, kids today are left with less than 12 hours a week “to create a unique consciousness”. The book proposes that radical change is needed to the American educational system to turn around the negative socialization that children receive.

John Taylor Gatto: “It appears to me as a schoolteacher that schools are already a major cause of weak families and weak com­munities. They separate parents and children from vital interaction with each other and from true curiosity about each other’s lives. Schools stifle family originality by appropriating the critical time needed for any sound idea of family to develop — then they blame the family for its failure to be a family.

“Why, then, are we locking kids up in an involuntary network with strangers for twelve years? …


“Look again at [what I consider to be] the seven lessons of school teaching (as it is now): confusion, class position, indifference, emotional and intellectual dependency, conditional self-esteem, and surveillance. All of these lessons are prime training for permanent underclasses, people deprived forever of find­ing the center of their own special genius. And over time this training has shaken loose from its original purpose: to regulate the poor. For since the 1920s the growth of the school bureaucracy as well as the less visible growth of a horde of industries that profit from schooling exact­ly as it is, has enlarged this institution’s original grasp to the point that it now seizes the sons and daughters of the middle classes as well. …