SINT MAARTEN (PHILISPBURG) – On 18 May 2020, the Party for Progress (PFP) faction has submitted questions to the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports, the Honorable Drs. Rudolph Samuel, related to an open letter to the Minister by students of the Milton Peters’ College’s HAVO 5 and VWO 6 exam classes, the PFP said in a press statement on Monday.
The faction begins with questions specifically related to the students’ letter, inquiring if Minister Samuel had reviewed and read the open letter and what, if any, spot-assessments had been made at MPC and other schools that have been using e-learning as a solution to the physical closure of schools.
“The letter caught us off-guard,” PFP Member of Parliament (MP) Raeyhon Peterson says. “Much like the students, we were under the impression that exams, both central and school-based, were cancelled. To receive an outline of the timeline on May 12, and to be expected to host test week by June 4 and re-sits thereafter is somewhat unrealistic.”
Regarding the e-learning solutions, PFP MP Faction Leader Melissa Gumbs had the following to say:
“Prior to the Minister being sworn in, his predecessor, caretaker Minister Irion, handed the creation and management of the emergency e-learning solution to the iStep project. PFP prioritizes education and the assessment of any educational initiatives, as they are executed. The concerns of the MPC students (poor or no internet, lack of devices, etc) have been echoed by students of other schools as well. We hope that iStep will be prioritized and supported by the Minister to address these concerns and ensure that students have the necessary access for e-learning solutions.”
The faction also had questions related to ‘future-proofing’ the online learning solution by implementing measures to facilitate a smoother transition towards online education in the event of potential future scenarios requiring it. Both MPs believe that the initiative is a necessary one and that, as the global pandemic continues to shift, online learning should be improved and promoted to make sure that teachers and students alike are better prepared for the future.
PFP ended their questions by inquiring about the Tweede Kamer document circulated within the Kingdom on 24 March 2020, asking the Minister if he or his predecessor, then-caretaker interim Minister Irion, had received and reviewed the document. The faction inquired if Minister Samuel had held any consultation with the SVOBE school board and MPC management in or since March 2020 with regards to the content of the document, as it outlines how schools in the Kingdom should handle their end-of-year requirements. As per the document, an alignment discussion was possible between the Minister of Education in the Netherlands and the Minister of ECYS. PFP queried if this meeting had occurred, as the current setup puts increased strain on the students, as well as on their teachers.
“Exams are a stressful time to begin with,” PFP states, “and that’s with a ‘normal’ learning situation. Since March 2020, there has been a ‘new normal,’ one with expected roadblocks and bumps. There must be some consultation to find a middle ground that protects the teachers and students, as well as their academic future by making sure they are as prepared as possible and have the time to receive necessary feedback. This is why we have asked the Minister for clarity on this topic.”
PFP MP Faction Leader Melissa Gumbs