Education always evokes much emotional discussion.

A much discussed and protested recent subject is the school merging initiative by the minister of education which will bring two schools for kids with special needs, Emma School, in Ayo, and Paso Pa Futuro, in Oranjestad, together.

The Minister made the decision to consolidate and place all 185 kids in the Emma school building that was especially built and equipped to accommodate students with special needs.

A recent study found that over the past five years, there are less kids in the special needs system, as many as 700, and classrooms are empty.

All hell broke loose!

Protests, manifestos, piss and vinegar from the Labor Unions, in short, a huge pushback!

Change is psychologically difficult, we know.

From what I understand 185 slow-learners, yes, some are severely autistic, is a reasonable number for the school in Ayo, twice the size of the school in town.

The Minister has been making investments to fix all that’s dysfunctional about the Emma school building, upgrading the kitchen, workshop and the electric installation. Adding smart boards, internet and innovation in general.

Everything that needs to be fixed. Will be. Stil, the pushback is vicious.

We know the Minister of Education isn’t sexy, and isn’t a great communicator. With his priestly Jesuit background, he must have grown to expect obedience, however the Labor Leaders opposed to his plans are ball-busting, intimidating and threatening super-females, some related to MinPres, and as such, commanding influence.

They just don’t like the frugal Minister, opposed to double dipping – working two full time jobs in education at the same time, and opposed to keeping children back a year or two, who favors a management team and holds teachers to a curriculum.

The minister wishes to see the special needs school cater to ages 4 to 12, then at 12 he would like kids sent to SPO, in the vocational stream, where they are taught specific skills.

If and when his plans materialize, the Emma school will be renamed, Sister Juliette, in honor of a catholic nun who was a special need student advocate.

Of course, I find it peculiar.

Why would you give a catholic name to a school in the public school stream??

Some of my friends speculate that because the minister wasn’t able to group the public schools into a foundation, he will be trying to group them under SKOA, Stichting Katholiek Onderwijs Aruba.

The vacated Paso pa Futuro building will be occupied by the Reina Beatrix school kids who have been dispersed between three locations which put much added stress on the principle.

Education always invokes much emotional discussion.

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March 05, 2021
Rona Coster