Friday, May 29th

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Editorial - Keep it up

That the preliminary central final exam results at Milton Peters College (MPC) and Sundial School show improvement for the third consecutive time (see related story) is obviously good news. Too often there is a tendency to focus on problems affecting today’s local youth without paying sufficient attention to positive aspects.

What helps makes this achievement especially notable is that it involves secondary education with Dutch as the language of instruction. For years certain experts have been claiming that doesn’t work in St. Maarten because children learn better in their mother tongue.

The latter is no doubt true, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be taught in another language. The trick is to do so in a manner that allows them to master the subjects even if they might not be 100 per cent proficient in Dutch.

The schools’ director spoke of a different approach to Dutch and math, concentrating more on specific exam training and tools needed to understand the questions, while comprehensive reading is an important skill in that regard. A firm language policy with coaches was said to have played a role as well.

Granted, that doesn’t mean graduates necessarily will know enough Dutch to continue their education successfully in the Netherlands and investing in an additional course for them is always worth considering. While more students are choosing for the region, some professions still require degrees from the Netherlands and it remains cheaper than certainly most U.S. colleges.

It is said the return on investment in terms of study-financing recipients in the Netherlands coming back to the island after they finish is not great, but that also has to do with the fact that as Dutch citizens they can opt freely to establish themselves in the European part of the kingdom. Were that also the case, for example, in the U.S., more might decide to stay there as well.

All in all, the school board for secondary education SVOBE, teachers, staff and students deserve to be commended on the encouraging developments at MPC and Sundial. Keep up the good work!