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‘Truly worrisome’

Dear Editor,

I would like to congratulate the graduates of both the Prins Willem-Alexander School and the St. Maarten Vocational School. I can only imagine how hard you've had to work to have reached this milestone. It goes to show that with perseverance, an 'I can, and I will' mentality anything you strive for can be achieved. Much success to you in your future endeavours and congratulations to your parents and guardians for assisting you in making it this far.

Based on the article printed in the media on Thursday last, I have some questions to which I hope the Honourable Minister Bourne-Gumbs can clarify?

1. What exactly is worrisome?

Is it the fact that the numbers at both institutions PWAS and SVS shows a higher male population than female?

2. While looking into the data for the upcoming school year 2015-2016, can an investigation be made to ensure that the education received at both institutions are indeed being carried out by professionals qualified for handling special educational needs? Are the assessments for the students proposed for the PWAS being professionally and properly administered?

3. Is there a school that is receiving funding whether it be public or through a foundation equipped to handle children with special educational needs such as Down Syndrome or Autism? As these needs are becoming more prevalent in our community and whether we want to acknowledge it or not, fact remains the elephant is still in the room.

4. What exactly do the numbers say about young boys coming up? More importantly what are you saying about the education these students are receiving from the institutions in question? While being vigilant to the trend in which the numbers indicate more male than female we need to be made aware of the type of education all our children are receiving and if those providing them the necessary skills are fully qualified to do so in order for our children to be equipped and upstanding citizens in the community in which they live.

Mentorship is needed overall, men to our young boys and women to our girls. And it's through this medium that I'm asking the community as a whole to do our part by paying it forward guaranteeing that this generation no longer be referred to as lost, as it is our responsibility to guide and show them the right path they should go.

What is 'worrisome' to me is while more students are being diagnosed with specifically Asperger's Syndrome, a spectrum of Autism, no measures are taken by government to secure that our children are not continuously labelled as problematic or behavioural children who are then typecast and sent to PWAS because these children don't fit into the mould of what one may refer to as 'traditional' school system children or 'normal.'

It is my hope that the questions posed can be clarified and a remedy to the many ills within our educational system can be found to assure that no child is left behind.

Marinka Gumbs

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