The different Parliamentary delegations of the four countries in the Kingdom have been exploring means and ways of cooperation and support to each other. Before the parliamentary discussions started, a representative of the Dutch Study Financing Agency IBG gave the members of parliament an insight on how IBG processes Study Financing.
Regulations of the IBG states that to be eligible for study financing one has to have the Dutch nationality and be at least 18 years of age. However, citizens of other EU countries who are not Dutch and have lived for at the least the past five years in the Netherlands could qualify for Dutch study financing as well.
This prompted Member of Parliament William Marlin to raise a point in defense of St. Maarten students. Marlin pointed out that a large number of St. Maarten high school students do not have the Dutch nationality and therefore would not qualify for study financing on St. Maarten, neither would they do so in the Netherlands. Many St. Maarten students with the Dutch nationality who do not get study financing from the St. Maarten government, go to the Netherlands on their own and apply there and qualify for study financing from IBG as they have completed High School, are at least18 years of age and possesses the Dutch nationality.
Marlin, pointed out that if there is a willingness on the part of the Dutch government to help the new country St. Maarten, the Dutch government should consider adjusting its Study financing Law to accommodate St. Maarten students. He told his fellow MP's from the other countries in the Kingdom, that just like an exception is made by the Dutch government and study financing is granted to EU citizens who do not have the Dutch nationality, an exception could be made for St. Maarten residents who do not have the Dutch nationality. The leader of the National Alliance argued that more and more St. Maarten students, born on St. Maarten do not have the Dutch nationality.
As there are not enough education possibilities on the island after some of these students have graduated from the MPC, St. Maarten Academy, Sundial School and the St. Dominic School, these students are forced to remain on the island and enter the job market.
If given an opportunity to get a college education or follow an MBO course of study on Aruba or Curacao, these young people would become better equipped to make an even better contribution to the further development of the young nation St. Maarten.
If there is a will on the part of the Dutch government to help St. Maarten, this is one of the possibilities.
The National Alliance leader and Member of Parliament concluded that for this to work, the St. Maarten government should also make the necessary adjustments to its own study financing policies.
As the discussion on education continued and possible ways of cooperation was on the table, the National Alliance MP William Marlin suggested that the government of St. Maarten should explore a level of cooperation with the Dutch government that now has responsibility for education on Saba and Statia. Marlin said that St. Maarten has embarked on the realization of the long awaited SBO School in Cay Hill. Marlin pointed out that in the past he raised this with Dutch authorities and also with Saba and Statia Commissioners. William Marlin said that this is a unique opportunity for cooperation between countries in the Kingdom. It makes no sense for the Dutch government to build an SBO school for the students on Saba and Statia and neither does it make sense to send these students all the way to the Netherlands. With the language of instruction at the school being English, it creates a unique opportunity for cooperation. Marlin believes that if the Dutch participates in the school board together with St. Maarten for the operations of the SBO School this would be in the interest of both countries in the Kingdom and specifically for the students coming from St. Maarten, Saba and Statia.