MPs discuss education and discrimination during IPKO Conference
WILLEMSTAD - Education, studying in the region, but also discrimination were themes discussed yesterday during the first day of the Kingdom Inter-Parliamentary Consultation (IPKO) in Sint Maarten.
Members of Parliament of the three countries in the Dutch Kingdom, The Netherlands, Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten will meet together to discuss important issues in the Kingdom until this Friday.
The President of the Curaçao Parliament, Marcoline Franco described the first day of the conference as good. The leader of the new coalition party, PAR, Zita Jesus-Leito was satisfied with the atmosphere of the first day of the meetings.
The subject on the agenda yesterday was education. The MPs talked about the opportunities for studying in the region. Presently it is not possible to receive a student loan from the Dutch Education Executive Agency (DUO) to study in the region. The Dutch MPs endorsed the earlier decision of their government in this case, but it was mostly St. Maarten and Aruba who are opposed to this decision.
The MPs from both these islands consider the refusal by the Dutch government as a form of discrimination, because it distinguishes between a Dutch Caribbean student and one from the European part of the Kingdom. The St. Maarten delegation even stated that the last word on this matter has not been said. According to the St. Maarten MP, Sarah Wescott-Williams, there is a difference of opinion, but the talks have not yet ended. “We there consider the response from the Dutch minister not as the final word in this matter.”
The Dutch Caribbean MPs also spoke about the increasing discrimination in the Dutch community. According to the Dutch MPs this is mostly because of the current problems with the refugees, which is affecting the Netherlands at the moment. But the Curaçao delegation pointed out the fact that the Dutch politicians serve as role models, which is currently not the case. “By making some statements, they are contributing to the problem,” said the Curaçao MPs.