Focus (2)

Soualiga Newsday Focus (3653)

Subsidy for support Caribbean students and starters on the labour market

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The WeConnect Foundation will receive an annual subsidy until 2027, for the support of Caribbean students and starters on the labour market. In 2023, it concerns an amount of about 200,000 euros.

The Netherlands is making this amount available through the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, to help students and starters get started after their studies in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. This is badly needed because there is a great need for professionals on the islands.

Students coming from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom face major challenges. Socially, financially and culturally. After their studies, Caribbean starters on the labour market often stay in the Netherlands to work. This is often more attractive, partly because wages in the Caribbean are relatively low, while starters have often accumulated a high study debt.

Moreover, employers and potential employees often find it difficult to find each other, due to the perceived distance between the European Netherlands and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. As a result, starters often have difficulty entering the Caribbean labour market. The latter is an important cause of the capacity problems faced by governments in the Caribbean part of Kingdom.

State Secretary of the Interior, Alexandra van Huffelen: "It is important that we pay attention to this group of students and starters. For their own future, but also to strengthen the islands. During my visits to the islands, I have seen that the governments have a great need for good professionals. And that is why we want to make it more attractive for people to go back and work for their native island."

The WeConnect Foundation aims to connect the Caribbean with the European Netherlands through among others, educational projects. They are committed to promoting study success and well-being of Caribbean students in the Netherlands.

They do this by providing them with a network, budget training, meetings and information at schools in the Caribbean, among other things. The foundation also encourages entry-level workers to work in the Caribbean, thus strengthening the official implementation power of the islands in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.



SINT MAARTEN (LITTLE BAY) - Gittens Consultancy Group (GCG) formerly Training Professionals International Firm, (TPI) Kicked Off the Public Entity of Saba Laura Linzey Day Care Team Building Retreat, on Friday, November 25, 2022, for their valued day-care professionals with an empowering Motivational Speech.

The Motivational Presentation, “Mindset, Power & Synergy the formula for a Culture of Service Excellence,” was facilitated by Motivational Speaker, Dr. Natasha Gittens, President and CEO of Gittens Consultancy a well-recognized speaker throughout the Caribbean that has facilitated similar speeches for organizations such as: Princess Juliana Airport, The St. Eustatius Tourism Office, Charlotte Brookson Academy, Motorworld Groups of Companies, St. Maarten Laboratory Services, the Public Entity of Saba Government, CC1 St. Maarten, New Challenges High School St. Eustatius, N.V. GEBE and many more.

Dr. Gittens’s motivational presentations focus on a diverse consortium of topics and can be customized for the needs of any organization, on topics such as: Integrity, Positivity in The Workplace, Communication, Teamwork, Organizational Advancement, Coaching & Development for High Performing Employees, Code of Conduct, Employee Engagement, Increase Sales & Profits Margins, The Keys to Customer Service Excellence, Tourism and all the Possibilities, Hospitality a Culture of Servitude, Management & Leadership Techniques for Change, Entrepreneurship: The Next Level, Business Development & Advancement, Marketing Guru Principles and much more. 

Tessa Alexander, Day Care Manager of Laura Linzy Day Care Center stated, I have had the pleasure of encountering Dr. Gittens for other presentations and was moved by her interaction with the audience and ability to motivate teams at various levels in development. I knew that our team would learn a great deal from the delivery and would be able to return to Saba empowered to take our center to a new, advanced level in all aspects of our services. We are also committed to pursuing a follow up with GCG to facilitate Training & Professional Development courses with our team, as our commitment to be the best day care professionals possible for our community, children and parents.

Furthermore, as part of continual efforts to build a stronger team, we are conducting this Team Building Activity. The staff of the LLDCC have made major strides in their education in the past 3 years (CVQ 2 and MBO 3). LLDCC has also focused on improvement of the quality of childcare including facilities, professionalization, curriculum and methods within the groups.

This Team building retreat, is geared towards a new focus area for continuous improvement- Mindset. This focus area is to reframe and establish new attitudes and norms towards childcare, working more efficiently together as a team. The team will also focus on redefining and embedding our Vision, Mission and Core Values. 

Team building is essential for a positive work environment. This team building activity is meant to not only focus on Mindset Coaching and Vision/Mission development; but to also motivate and encourage LLDCC Staff- which can lead to a higher rate of job satisfaction and help drive employees to give maximum contribution on the job. Participating in team building activities can also contribute to employee’s sense of belonging and can lead to pride in oneself and one’s job. Happy workers lead to higher production and a positive work environment for all.

For more information on GCG Motivation Presentations, call 526-2052.


Fire Department pays special tribute to Reid Barnes Jr.

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The Saba Fire Department held its annual commemoration for deceased fire fighter Reid Barnes Jr. on his birthday Friday, November 25. This year’s event was extra special with the naming of the new body breathing apparatus work station after Reid Jr.

Fire Chief Commander Julio Every explained that the work station at the new Fire Station that is being built next to the airport was being named after Reid Jr., or Junior as he was called by many, as a tribute to this very qualified, courageous and well-loved fire fighter who lost his life at the age of 39 in a tragic accident outside work hours on July 25, 2019.

“Reid Jr. was one of the the first fire fighters on Saba who received a special training on Saba to fill and work with the body breathing apparatus. Reid Jr. was very good at doing this job in combination with his regular duties as fireman,” said Every. The apparatus is used to fill the air compression tanks that fire fighters wear when there is a lot of smoke and toxic materials are involved in a fire.

“I felt it was important that we never forget him by honoring and remembering him at the place where he felt at home. We will never forget his valuable contribution to the team on Saba. He will always be missed,” said Every. The mother of Reid Jr., Adelyda O.R. Barnes, and Reid Jr.’s sister Peggy Barnes unveiled the sign with Reid Jr.’s name on it.

This was the fourth time that the Saba Fire Brigade held the Reid Jr. memorial event at the Juancho Yrausquin Airport. Standing in front of the fire trucks with the sirens on for a full minute, his colleagues paid tribute, followed by one minute of silence.

Reid Jr.’s parents, his sister, two of his sons and other family members were in attendance. Reid Jr. worked at the Fire Department for 18 years.


Island Council discusses banking issues with MCB management

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - A delegation of the Saba Island Council had a meeting with management of the Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (MCB) in Curaçao earlier this week to discuss banking services on Saba and the challenges for Saba clients as a result of the transition from the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) to the MCB.

Island Council Members Vito Charles and Carl Buncamper, accompanied by Island Council Registrar Akilah Levenstone on Monday, November 21 met with three MCB managing directors and an assistant managing director.

One of the most notable outcomes of this meeting was the pledge of the MCB management to look at the options to reestablish some form of the bank’s presence on Saba. A permanent branch is not very likely, the Island Council delegation was told, but other formats are being considered such as a pop-up or a store front concept whereby Saba clients would still be able to get service from a physically present MCB employee.

According to Council Member Charles, MCB’s management acknowledged that there were hiccups in the transition from WIB to MCB on Saba. “The bank received many phone calls in the process and it really opened their eyes as to how loyal Sabans have been as clients. Because of this loyalty, MCB is looking at how to best serve Saba customers in the future. They will shortly take a decision to reestablish the bank’s presence on Saba. They acknowledged that this is something that should be done,” said Charles.


“The bank underestimated that people stayed when they left Saba in 2018. The bank is reevaluating its departure from Saba and looking at how they could reestablish their presence,” said Council Member Buncamper. The Island Council delegation was told that the MCB was working diligently to mitigate the problems with the transition.

The problems to deposit cash, the issues in general that Saba customers face and the difficulty to get service on Saba were also discussed in the meeting with MCB management. “We also brought up the matter of the ATM which is down a lot. This limits the access to cash and complicates doing business on the island,” said Charles.

Bank transfers

Another matter that came up was the hassle for customers when transferring funds between banks. MCB management explained that the difficulties with instant transfers were not necessarily a problem with the MCB, but with another financial institution that still has to implement instant banking at their end.

The lack of (affordable) mortgages was also discussed, as well as the introduction of modern technology to facilitate easier payments and to make it possible for customers to receive a cash back at the store. “We emphasized the need for better and modern banking services. And, we hope that online services will expand and improve,” said Buncamper.

MCB invited

The Saba delegation invited MCB to come to the island to meet with their clients to discuss the issues, to exchange views and ideas, and to talk about the bank’s plans. “People remained with the bank after its departure and this loyalty needs to be rewarded. People need to be able to have trust in the institution that guards their money and to have regular contact,” said Charles.

The Council Members said it was important to have met MCB’s management. “We are moving forward with this. I remain optimistic. We have to keep on it, because this is important for the Saba people,” said Buncamper. “It was important to meet with them to discuss the developments and to share what the people and businesses have told us. Financial institutions have a very important role and they have to take that seriously,” said Charles.


Ombudsman elected as CAROA President

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - During the 11th Biennial Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CAROA) Conference the Ombudsman of Sint Maarten, Gwendolien Mossel, was elected as the new President of the Caribbean association for the period November 2022 – October 2024. As President of CAROA, Ms. Mossel will endeavor to strengthen the association and its influence within the region.        

The theme of this year’s conference, which was held virtually, was ‘The importance of the Ombudsman in building resilience in Governance’. The conference included a successful meeting with the CAROA membership and the National Human Rights Institutes (NHRI) in the Caribbean with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The IACHR expressed interest in collaborating with CAROA on a bilateral and/or regional level to strengthen their work in the Caribbean. It is anticipated that by working together a clearer understanding can be achieved of the challenges the Ombuds institutions face.

In addition, it is expected that the IACHRs assistance, through technical cooperation and capacity building, will result in a more effective use of the Inter-American Human Rights System, and increased use of the IACHR's mechanisms in the region.

CAROA presently consists of seventeen (17) countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Martin, Saint Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, and the Netherlands (BES).


Police holds Meeting with stakeholders about Upcoming Holiday Season

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - A meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon November 23, 2022 between the Sint Maarten Police Force and members of the Indian Merchants Association (IMA), Philipsburg Promotional Board (PPB) Downtown TAXI Association, G.E.B.E, Tour busses association, V.R.O.M.I, Dutch Sxm United Bus Drivers Association and the Harbor cab association.

At this meeting the calendar of activities, events and work that will take place during this holiday season was discussed.    

The following items were discussed during the meeting held at the Philipsburg Police Station:

- Traffic circulation during this busy peak season.

- The various bottlenecks that stakeholders may face during this period and how they can be remedied.

All stakeholders present went over the details for the upcoming season to ensure that they are all on the same page regarding regulations and safety procedures for Philipsburg.

To maximize a secure end-of-the-year period, all these stakeholders will converge together an much as needed. (KPSM)


CDA wants mobile phone ban in schools: ‘pupils may even talk to each other’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Christian Democrats want a ban on mobile phones in schools to improve pupils’ school results and boost social interaction. The party cited research by the DUO education bureau which found that smartphones in the classroom lead to lower grades and affect language and reading skills.

The plan for a national ban, introduced during Wednesday’s education budget debate, would mean the schools’ own policies on mobile phone use would be superseded, because, the party claims, they create ‘confusion’.

Some schools already collect phones before lessons start. That, the CDA said, should happen at all primary and secondary schools. Preventing pupils from using their phones would improve concentration, CDA MP René Peters told RTL Nieuws. ‘Teenagers think they can multitask but they can’t.’

It would be good for teachers too, he said, ‘because they will have more time to teach if they no longer have to start the class by telling pupils to put their phones away’. Any eventual ban will not be received enthusiastically by all schools because some use them as a teaching tool and to communicate schedule changes.

Peters said that an iPad could do that job. ‘The daily misery caused by mobiles in schools far outweighs the small advantages. And who knows, the children might even start talking to each other again at break time.’



Amsterdam’s stop and search trial in doubt after police break guidelines

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The future of Amsterdam’s stop and search programme to try to stop violent youth crime is in doubt after a major blunder by the city’s police force.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema gave city police the power to carry out stop and search operations ‘on an experimental basis’ in five areas of the city, despite the concerns of many councillors.

The trial was allowed to go ahead on the condition people were outside and chosen at random. In total, 25 such operations were planned between October and the end of December and the 10th was due to take place on Friday.

The aim was to show that stop and search could be used to reduce violent crime. However, earlier this month, police carried out a search operation on youngsters at a youth centre in the city’s Nieuw West district, against all agreements with city officials.

The centre is used by youngsters with a mainly Moroccan background who need help and, according to the Parool, see it as a sanctuary. The centre’s staff played a major roll in keeping youngsters off the streets during the recent rioting.

Other searches took place outside the designated areas. Two of the city’s three coalition parties oppose stop and search, because of the risk of ethnic profiling, as do most of the opposition.

Councillors have now called for an emergency debate on Thursday to discuss the future of the experiment Control Alt Delete, an organisation campaigning for an end to racial profiling, said the results generated by stop and search procedures in other cities are low.

In Rotterdam, the organisation points out, police searched over 10,000 people in 2017 and found just 147 knives. ‘That means just 1.5% of checks produced a result,’ the organisation said.



VVD calls for action to cap international student numbers

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – MPs from the right wing liberal VVD have called on education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf to do more to limit the number of international students coming to the Netherlands.

Earlier this year Dijkgraaf put legislation which would have allowed universities and colleges to place limits on foreign students on ice, pending a review. But VVD MP Hatte van der Woude has told the AD she is concerned that not enough is being done.

‘The minister first wants to have a think about it, like a thoughtful professor, and then draw up a vision for the future,’ she said. ‘I have not even seen a draft. And in the meantime, the universities are filling up again.’

This year a number of universities called on foreign students not to come unless they had organized accommodation in advance. Van der Woude said she is also concerned about overflowing lecture theatres and the lack of room in labs.

Some degree courses with a fixed number of students are full of internationals and ‘Dutch students are being driven out by them, the MP said.

She plans to ask Dijkgraaf to explain what he is doing to reduce numbers during Wednesday’s debate on the education ministry budget.


Some 85,500 international students are currently studying at one of the Netherlands’ 14 universities and 72% of them come from Europe, according to figures published by the Dutch universities association last month.

The total is an increase of 7.2% on the previous academic year, but well down on growth in previous years, which has ranged from 12% to 15%.

The Dutch universities association has campaigned since 2018 for new rules to allow them to manage the flow of international students and the impact on course quality.

The UvN told Dutch News that universities are willing to impose caps on several courses which are popular with foreign students, in an effort to limit numbers.

This will be done either by imposing limits on the number of students who can sign up, or limits on the number of non-Dutch courses in subjects such as psychology, management and politics, the UvN said.

This academic year, 340,000 students were taking a bachelor or master’s university degree course in the Netherlands.



Dept. of Culture hosts the Inaugural Sage Cultural Award, “Honoring Soualiga’s Cultural Icons”

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – St. Martin is steadily progressing into a major Caribbean cultural and creative hub. Not only in cultural diversity but also in artistic vibrancy, resilience and innovation. The purpose of the Sage Cultural Award is to create a platform where local creative genius is showcased and awarded at the highest level; amongst peers, dignitaries, influential public and private entities and the public.

This gala event will embrace ‘cultural elegance’ and consist of an evening of celebration, honoring, entertainment and dancing. We aim to stimulate greater cultural awareness of our dynamic Cultural Creative Industry (CCI) and its four main components: Heritage, Arts, Media and Creative Services. Such an event can encourage emerging entrepreneurs to continue to enhance their creative products and services thereby adding value to St. Martin’s current ‘cultural evolution’.

The Inaugural Sage Cultural Award ceremony will highlight and award a range of honorees including cultural and creative professionals and artists in all fields. This event is slated to occur on November 26th, 2022, at the ALEEZE Convention Center & Event Hall. The late, Camille E. Baly, Esq. was a former Head of the Department of Culture and a champion of St. Martin’s cultural heritage and history, as such his family will receive a special “Visionary of Cultural Legacy Award” in his honor.

Additionally, 10 of St. Martin’s Cultural Icons were selected via a Selection Committee and will be receiving their individual Sage Cultural Award on the same evening. St. Martin’s creative potential is enormous and positively influences nation building and our economy. The community is asked to join the celebration via live stream on the Department of Culture Facebook page at 6:00 pm on Saturday November 26th, 2022. More information on this event will follow over the next few days. Let us pay tribute to our Cultural Giants!


Sage Cultural Award logo

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio