Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf concluded his visit to Saba late Monday afternoon.
Dijkgraaf said he had a “wonderful day” on Saba where he spoke with many people “about things that we share.” It was a full program during which the Minister and his delegation got to meet with government representatives, management and students of the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS), young professionals who have returned from their studies abroad and paid a visit to the Saba Heritage Center.
The Minister, who arrived from the Netherlands late Sunday afternoon, started his working visit with a meeting with the Executive Council. The Minister was introduced to the new Commissioner of Education Eviton Heyliger. After this meeting, the Minister spoke with the Island Council. At both meetings, it was discussed how students going abroad to study can be guided, as well as the importance of vocational education.
At the SCS, Dijkgraaf spoke with the Executive Director of the SKOSaba/SEF schoolboards Anton Hermans about secondary education on Saba, its challenges, the developments, and the plans for a new school. The Minister visited class 5 academic where he spoke with students about their plans to continue their studies abroad. Some students said that they would take a gap year to work and prepare for their studies in the US or the Netherlands.
Dijkgraaf had lunch at Island Flavor with five young professionals who returned to Saba after their studies. “I spoke with them about their challenges to come back. I was very inspired by how they want to engage with the community and contribute to their island. They had many ideas on how to improve education,” the Minister said.
The last stop before going to the airport was the Heritage Center where Vito Charles of the Saba Archeological Center SABARC met Dijkgraaf and his delegation. Charles showed the Minister the artifacts at the center, provided historic details on Saba and he gave a presentation about Saba’s slavery past and the process of emancipation.
“At the Saba Heritage Center, we spoke about the terrible slavery past and what its implications are for society to this day. We talked about how together we can have a dialogue to create more awareness, to address the issues that are a remnant of that time, and look at how what I call the soft forces, namely education, culture, and science can bring us more to each other and to create a more just society,” said Dijkgraaf.