Head of the Education, Culture and Science (OCW) Department Caribbean Netherlands Nolly Oleana paid a farewell visit to Saba on Tuesday, November 1 where he met with the Executive Council. At the end of the meeting, Island Governor Jonathan Johnson presented him with a book about Saba.
Oleana has been Head of the Education, Culture and Science (OCW) Department Caribbean Netherlands for 7.5 years, since 2015. He is leaving on December 1 this year. He has been on Saba many times, also in his previous position as policy advisor in school buildings since 2011.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has invested a lot in education on Saba, as well as Bonaire and St. Eustatius, since the islands became part of the Netherlands in 2010. School buildings were improved and school facilities expanded, better labor conditions were created in the education sector, a care structure was established for special-needs students, school furniture and educational material were renewed, and financing was arranged for the training and empowering of teaching personnel.
“A lot has been accomplished, but we are not there yet. There are still a number of challenges that require attention,” said Oleana. The need for multilingualism of students is an area that requires attention, and so is digitization in education.
Also needed is an increased involvement of parents and the business sector in school. “There is a role for businesses, not only in terms of providing internships but also for professionals to teach their profession at schools, especially at the level of vocational education,” said Oleana. “For example, a baker who teaches students about his or her profession.”
As for the project to reconstruct the schools and to construct new school buildings, Oleana pointed out that the Ministry of OCW and the Public Entity Saba are working together on accomplishing this. He said that this was a joint responsibility. “I hope that in a few years, both schools are looking their best, making students, staff, and parents proud.”
Oleana said he was very fond of Saba. He worked on Saba for four months in 2014 to assist with the reorganization of the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS). “What always strikes me is the commitment of Saba residents to be sustainable in what they do. Things are done in a thorough, meaningful and sustainable manner, taking into account the next generation. You see this on all levels.”
Taking over Oleana’s position will be former Bonaire Commissioner Nina den Heyer. Oleana will remain as Bonaire’s Acting Island Governor for another year.