Published On: Sun, Jun 24th, 2018

Information meeting for the Educational Sector on the 2030 Agenda/SDGs


Great Bay — St. Maarten — On June 21th, members of school boards, school managers and academia, have visited a presentation given by the department of the Interior and Kingdom Relation, BAK, on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its relevancy for the Educational sector. At the new Government Building an explanation was given on the former 8 Millennium Development Goals, transitioning into the Sustainable Development Goals that applies since 2016. Morales emphasized the need to engage the educational sector in not only raising awareness, but also giving content to implementation of SDGs locally.

Zooming in on SDG nr. 4 Quality Education, its core elements and the attention were given to the SDGs related to Educational Sector & Cross links, like SDGs 1 and 2 which stands for 0 hunger and poverty, SDG 3 on Good Health and Wellbeing, SDG 5, 6 on Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 8, Decent work and economic growth, and SDG 16 for Strong Institutions, Peace and Justice.

The late Nelson Mandela has stated: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world!’ In this way Educators and representatives of the school board and the University of Sint Maarten have a key role to play in the sustainable development of Sint Maarten. Quality Education is therefore a core SDG.

The targets to be reached in 2030 are that ‘All children have to participate in pre-primary and primary education’. It is important to reach a high (> 90%) education enrolment for all children and for them to get basic skills in reading and mathematics. Another target is to ‘Minimize inequity’ between rich and poor, between urban and rural societies and to ‘tackle the gender issues’.

‘To Guarantee trained teachers and minimize the poor condition of schools’ is another target, but also ‘All schools to have access to electricity, drinking water’. The latter appear to be no big deal on Sint Maarten, but on the other hand ‘To ensure Access to computers & Internet for teaching’ and ‘Guarantee Scholarships & aligning those to market demand’, pose challenges.

It is extremely important in the 2030 Agenda to ‘Increase Youth/Adult vocational training & skills, as well as entrepreneurship and tertiary education (including the University). ‘Life Long learning’ is the way to achieve sustainability in the educational sector, influencing other sectors.

A practical explanation was given on how to navigate on the internet to make usage of the best SDGs educational materials for schools, in a wide spectrum varying from handbooks for teachers, story books, cartoons and workbooks to games for students.

Stakeholder of the education sector mentioned that they share broad based support for the SDGs. ‘We all need to come together; we need a bottom up approach as well as a shift in thinking, to combat the challenges we are facing’.

The key issues some stakeholders mentioned were: the acute problem of a shortage of qualified teachers, non-attractive salaries, housing for teachers, the high cost of living, and more attention needs to be given to the parents and their role in the education of their children.
A USM representative mentioned to work on a program for the training of secondary school teachers.

The presentation to the school boards was geared to a better understanding of the new development approach to make this world a better place to live. The ultimate mission of the 2030 Agenda is to realize zero HUNGER & POVERTY, REDUCE UNEQUALITY and SAFE THE PLANET.

The attendees acknowledge that it is important to work on incorporating knowledge of the SDGs into the school curriculum. Engaging the Youth and their role models, such as a local DJ to talk about SDGs, is a recommendation.

Mrs. L. Morales, program manager at BAK, mentioned several examples of SDG projects for the schools, such as: using the living statutes to portray the 17 SDGs, producing of a short, local based films about one or more themes of the SDGs.
The presentation concluded with a call of Morales to the school board members and managers in thinking through on recommendations and practical ideas to enrich the school curriculum with relevant SDGs.

At the end of the session, the program manager Morales has handed over MDGs Reports of Sint Maarten 2015 and Beyond, MDGs SYNOPSIS booklets, SDGs BOOKMARKS and SDGs POSTERS to the representatives of the school boards.

Building strong institutions is also very essential for reaching a sustainable development and starting with informing the Educational sector is cutting the cake on two sides. Above all, the youth is essential in embracing the development agenda to create the world they want.

For more information for a presentation or on which role you or your organization can play in the 2030 Agenda, you can call Loekie Morales at BAK, tel nr. 721 5271223.