Published On: Thu, Jun 5th, 2014

Schools and budget cuts

Jacob Gelt DekkerCan we fix the Curacao’s school system by throwing more money at it?

Last week, the island government announced major cuts in the school budget, causing a wave of repulsion amongst many parents, students and most of all, the political opposition.

With the cuts, the already broken educational system of the island would become even more handicapped and cause another backlash to its poorly performing students.

Fortunately, some parents are still---rightfully so--- convinced that schooling is the only and ultimate magic against poverty, and therefore the budget of the Department of Education has become a holy cow. Touching the budget is sacrilege, no matter how wasteful some of its spending is.

But could more money for education remedy the huge problems dumped on our children from outside the school walls? Single parent families, unemployment and poverty of custodians, language barriers, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction and crime are but a few of the many issues today’s children have to deal with. Amongst many children and parents little or no respect remains for education, and having to go to school is no more than a legal obligation, and most of all a nuisance.

Will the proposed cuts in the budget of Education further affect these already fragile children adversely?

A closer look at the educational system shows an extraordinary preoccupation with labor conditions of school staff. No matter how poorly teachers perform, tenure---guaranteed lifetime employment--- seems to be the ultimate objective, not the readiness of students to function in our society.

The results of island education are poor. The drop out rate of 14-year olds has been 50-55% for years, in spite of major government sponsored reorganization “ Delta projects”

For most students who are off to college or university, at least one,or two years of remedial courses have to bring the students up to minimum par, but ultimately, many have no other choice than to enter advanced education at a lower high school level. There is no doubt, Curacao students have a very hard time to compete on the island, and even more, in the world.

Microsoft- Bill Gates, one of the most successful and richest men on the globe, and he just a prep-school grad and college dropout, declared war on the school systems. “ High schools have become obsolete and are limiting--- even ruining—the lives of millions of children every year,” and, “ The situation has become almost shameful.” are some of his claims on the public podium.

A wide array of On-line education and corporate certificates are but a few of the many new phenomena in education in today’s competitive global markets.

Therefore the biggest threads of adverse effects on our children are not a few cuts of wasteful spending, but rather the cobwebbed minds of our administrators, who relish in their infinitesimal world of self-interest.

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