Friday, Nov 28th

You are here: Home

Nearly-expelled pupil now at sister Hillside campus

ST. PETERS--A nine-year-old child has returned to school after an attempt to expel him from Hillside Christian Schools Asha Stevens Campus.

After a line-up of warnings by the school on the child and his brother, and a meeting with Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs (ECSY) Inspection Division Truancy Officers, a Court of Guardianship (CoG) representative and the child’s parents, the Hillside Christian Schools board arranged for the child to be enrolled in its Helmich Snijders Campus.

Switching the child to a school with Dutch as the language of instruction was not a preferred solution, but the school board made the decision after the meeting on the urgent case and a subsequent notification that the board would be solely responsible for enrolling him in another school. Because the sister campus falls under the same school board, the board could organise the switch itself.

The parents could not be reached up to press time, but the child is said by school management to be settling in well at the new school so far. His parents have met with the principal and Student Care Coordinator to meet the staff in person and be introduced to the school and its regulations.

Student Care also was informed about the case prior to the switch, said General Director Asha Stevens in an invited comment.

The two brothers fought constantly and the school has long recommended that the two be separated, which reportedly was agreed on by the CoG representative at the meeting. The younger brother also is said to be doing relatively well.

The child has had homework sent to him in the time between deciding what had to be done and the process of switching to the new school, which took about three weeks. He had been suspended and it was decided amongst the relevant stakeholders that he should stay home until a final decision was made.

Educational reports, needed for when pupils will be enrolled at new schools, were drafted for both boys in the days following the initial meeting. At the meeting as well as before, the frustrated parents claimed that the school had been picking on their children for a long time and reportedly said they might take both boys away.

The CoG representative was said to have shown determination in working with the case.

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs (ECSY) Inspectorate head Chantal Schaminee told The Daily Herald in an invited comment on Tuesday that primary schools that wish to expel a pupil must first make sure said pupil is accepted into another school. This is to secure compulsory education and is stated in article 20 of the National Ordinance on Foundation-Based Education (FBE).

She said the Inspectorate played a role in the process and kept in close contact with the school. The Education Department monitors the process, but is not mandated to find another school, this being the responsibility of the school itself.

In these situations it is up to the parents, not the Education Department, to accept the decision and if they do not agree with the choice for any reason, they must join the school board’s efforts in finding another placement. Public schools should accept expelled pupils, unless full.

Schaminee refrained from comment on the issue of the child having compulsory sessions with a psychologist, as it pertained to the child’s emotional wellbeing.

Hillside Christian Schools tried to expel the child in early November after an incident in which the child had a violent outburst, posing a danger to both other pupils and himself. The incident followed an earlier suspension, also related to aggressive behaviour, for which the school demanded that the parents seek psychological evaluation and counselling. This was not adhered to, with the exception of an eventual couple of sessions. There had been a long and documented line of complaints about the children’s disruptive behaviour.

The parents, very upset by the situation, had called this newspaper to report the expulsion. They said they knew the child was “no angel,” but that it was wrong to kick out a nine-year-old and it would mean no other school would want to take him. They had been surprised at the school’s move to expel him and said it was not allowed because of compulsory education.

Cuts in islands’ health care package have Senate worried

THE HAGUE--The new cut backs in the health care insurance package in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba has the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament worried, and in particular the Socialist Party (SP). The Senate will further analyse these adaptations which mainly affect physical therapy and dental care.

The First Chamber's Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations met on Tuesday on the request of SP Senator Nanneke Quik-Schuijt to discuss the revised health care insurance package that Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers has announced for January 1, 2015.

The minister confirmed her decision in an October 31, 2014, reply to written questions posed by SP Member of the Second Chamber Ronald van Raak who feared that the restrictions on the covering of physical therapy by the health care insurance would hurt the islands' residents, especially those with a lower income.

Quik-Schuijt said the answers by the minister were "unsatisfactory" and merited further analysing. The Senate has been on top of the issue of health care insurance in the Caribbean Netherlands and discussed this various times with Schippers. The Senate is worried about the effects of Schippers' decision.

Covered by the insurance per January 1, 2015, will be physical therapy for rehabilitation purposes, physical therapy for youngsters up to the age of 18, youngsters with a chronic illness and physical therapy for the pelvis in case of bladder incontinence. A maximum has been set for most of these categories. Adults with a chronic disease have to pay the first twenty treatments themselves after which the insurance will cover the rest.

All other physical therapy treatment will have to be paid for, explained Schippers in her letter. She stated that the insurance package would be more in line with the basic package in the Netherlands. The cut backs would serve to keep the increasing cost of health on the islands in check.

According to Quik-Schuijt the reason for the cut backs was not fair because the situation on the islands was very different from that in the Netherlands. "People on the islands cannot take additional insurance as is the case in the Netherlands," she told The Daily Herald on Tuesday.

The Senator also pointed out that people earned less and that there is more poverty than in the Netherlands. "Most people cannot afford to pay these additional costs," she said. Schippers noted in her letter that contrary to the Netherlands, people on the islands didn't have to pay an own risk or nominal premium.

Quik-Schuijt said there was a real risk that physical therapy would disappear on St. Eustatius and Saba as there would not be enough work for the visiting therapists. Schippers denied this. She stated in her letter that rehabilitation physical therapy would remain available at the hospitals on all three islands. She didn't share the view of the SP party that it was "irresponsible" to partly eliminate physical therapy from the health care insurance package.

The cut backs will have counter-productive consequences, said Quik-Schuijt. "In the end it will only cost more money, savings will be undone because it will cause other problems. People who can't get proper health care will be unfit to work for a longer period," she said.

Quik-Schuijt said she was also keen to hear from the minister about the effects of the revised package on dental care and to get an update on the dental sanitation that started a few years ago to get rid of people's backlog in dental care.

Toddler injured in hit-and-run accident

CAY BAY--A young child was injured in a hit-and-run accident on Tuesday afternoon. The toddler, who is said to be around three years old, is said to have run out into the street after having escaped the attention of his mother, who was caring for a younger child inside the house.

Eyewitnesses said a small grey or white vehicle had driven along the narrow one-way road at speed, hitting the child. The vehicle stopped some distance away and the driver was seen to step out of the car, look back to where the child was lying in the road, jump back into the car and drive off.

The police were first at the scene and tended to the child, who was bleeding heavily from the head. The police initially transported the child in their car, but were met by an ambulance halfway that then took the child to St. Maarten Medical Center.

The police were not available for comment.

Shooting victim mistaken for son

SUCKER GARDEN--The man who drove himself to hospital with a gunshot wound on Monday night was said to have been shot in the abdomen outside his home in The Keys area of Sucker Garden sometime after 9:00pm.

The Daily Herald understands the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and the shooters had been after the victim's son. The son was said to have been involved in a robbery that took place at Beach Plaza Casino on November 2, when some US $500,000 was stolen.

One of the robbers is said to have been arrested since then and had been found in possession of more than US $80,000.

Apparently the co-suspects of the shooting believed the intended victim had given information to the police and therefore was responsible for the arrest. The intended victim is said to have fled to the Dominican Republic after he found out he might be a target.

Teens unite to end violence to women

page4b160PHILIPSBURG--November 25th was International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. In observance of the day, Women's Desk with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, together with Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs, organised an awareness event for teenagers in the Philipsburg Cultural Centre.

Some 60 youths, both male and female, attended the event, which was part of a month of awareness activities in five high schools on both sides of the island. The activities at the schools included lessons and workshops by experts including psychologists.

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women is the first international human rights instrument to exclusively and explicitly address the issue of violence against women. It affirms that the phenomenon violates, impairs or nullifies women's human rights and their exercise of fundamental freedoms.

The declaration provides a definition of gender-based abuse, calling it "any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

Violence against women is common world-wide, amongst all cultures and skin colours. A presentation by Joy Arnell showed that 70 per cent of all women have been subjected to violence at some point of their lives.

The participants of the event were welcomed by Aida Holaman, who explained that Minister Cornelius de Weever could not be present, but sent his encouragement.

Before the presentation, the youths watched a skit called "Le Menu," written and directed by Earl Duzong who also played a lead role of an abusive husband caught cheating by his wife. She confronts him with a menu of her own, serving up divorce papers as the main course.

In the interactive presentation following the skit Joy Arnell asked the teens present what they believed the message of the skit was. Answers varied from "tell young women to stand up for their rights" and "don't let a man take control of you," to "don't cheat," a comment which was made by a young man.

Arnell impressed on the youth that violence against women has happened for ages and continues to happen. Activities do take place to eliminate this type of violence, but they have not yet been effective enough.

She engaged in discussion with the youth, which showed that they had a good awareness and strong opinions on the matter. What was surprising was that a number of the young people believed that violence against women had a background in slavery. Violence against women, however, is something that affects women of all communities including those without a history of slavery.

An interesting discussion started between two young women with one stating that women put themselves at risk of sexual violence by the way they dress, and another young woman stating that she had the right to go out in her underwear if she so chose without any man harassing her.

The discussion also covered teen dating violence, and they discussed triggers such as partners checking each other's phones or constantly checking up on each other named as early warning signs.

"If we accept men to behave in a certain way towards us, we are enabling abuse too," Arnell said, before pointing out that girls can display this behaviour to boys too.

Arnell asked the group which among them had ever witnessed violence against a woman. At least a third of all hands in the room went up, with a much larger number confirming that they knew or had heard of a woman having been subjected to violence.

The discussion broached matters such as marital rape and domestic violence, both of which occur too frequently on the island and both, to the agreement of all, should be dealt with harshly in law. Forms of violence less common on the island, but more common in other parts of the world were also discussed and explained, such as honour killings and genital mutilation.

Two teenagers pointed out two interesting flaws in St. Maarten culture: the pressure on men always to be perceived as tough, and the fact that culturally people mind their own business and don't interfere in problems of others. Both these behaviours contribute to the problem of violence against women.

The youth discussed what could be done to decrease the problem and the responsibility that each person can take of helping someone they know is a victim. They agreed that a lot came down to education, both at school and also at home, and that parents had a lot to contribute by treating girls and boys equally.

At the end of the event, the teens competed to win two mobile phones. A young man called Percival was named a winner in a contest where they had to come up with a strategy against violence. The winning plan included addressing both the victims and the perpetrators.

Two young women from St. Dominic's High School won the second phone. Initially they tied with two Milton Pieters students in re-enacting a scene from the movie "The Colour Purple," but the St. Dominic's students impressed the crowd by re-enacting, word for word, part of the skit they had seen earlier.

The organisers of the event managed to tackle a heavy and difficult subject in a way that was interesting and challenging for the youngsters and managed to get their full participation.

Page 3 of 1117