De Gouverneur Toespraken

Terug naar Toesprakenmei 03, 2011

Education and Governance

Delivered by His Excellency Eugene B. Holiday 
at S4 Student Support in Amsterdam.

Dear Students

It gives me great pleasure to meet and address you on this spring afternoon here in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.  Looking at you brings back memories of my time as a student in the Netherlands. A time spent studying in preparation to return home to take up my place in the development of my island, our beautiful island, our home, our Country. As I look at you I see the immense potential of our island St. Maarten. 

In the next few minutes I shall, further to the recent constitutional change and considering the ongoing nation and institutional building on St. Maarten and projecting into the future, share my views on the topic: education and governance. Governance as discussed here refers to: the set of responsibilities and practices, policies and procedures, exercised by government officials, to provide strategic direction, ensure objectives are achieved, manage risks and use resources responsibly and with accountability.

A lot has happened and changed since you left Sint Maarten. Sint Maarten is no longer an island territory of the Netherlands Antilles. Sint Maarten is an autonomous Country within the Kingdom since October 10, 2010 . We have our own Council of Ministers who with the support of the civil service is charged with the development of the vision for and management of St. Maarten. Sint Maarten has its own parliament responsible for the development of laws and for overseeing the activities of the government. Acting within the confines of the rule of law we like no generation before us have the opportunity and constitutional authority, to shape the socio-economic, cultural and environmental construct of our beloved island.

Since that historic day of October 10, 2010 we are confronted daily with various governance issues related to the new status, the most notable or salient being the discussions on the budget. How we address these issues will determine the future development of St. Maarten? In this regard I wish to stress that the way to address this issue is to strive for excellence in governance. In this regard it is essential to emphasize the relationship between the level of governance and the well being of the community; namely the better the level of governance in a society, the higher the level of wellbeing of and the stronger the community. Put differently, excellence in governance is not a goal in itself, it is above all a precondition for meeting the challenge of enhancing education, improving health care, reducing poverty, maintaining our culture, protecting our environment and promoting sustainable financial economic development. In short excellence in governance is a precondition for achieving the goals on Sint Maarten, which you and I believe in.

An evaluation of the institutional landscape required to govern St. Maarten demonstrates a significant change in the governmental infrastructure of the island in the past six-plus months. Noteworthy in this regard are:
a. the installation of the high councils of state such as the Council of Advice, the General Audit Chamber, the ombudsman;
b. the expansion of the justice chain with among others the strengthening of the Public Prosecutor Office, the installation of the Federal Detectives Department and the Department of Immigration;
c. The creation of the Security/Intelligence Services Department;

The creation of these institutions and organizations are some new and exciting developments as we move forward with the making of our Country. These steps also come with challenges in particular because the actual functioning of these institutions and organizations will determine the future development path of our Country; a development path, which as I stated earlier, is dependent on the level of governance by government officials. Namely these institutions and organizations play a critical role in the promotion of accountability, the enforcement of policies and practices and the development of policies. The good functioning of these institutions and organizations and others in government is therefore critical.

It is obvious that the required optimal and good function of these institutions and other organizations in aid of realizing good governance will not happen on its own. An essential condition is the availability of well trained, educated and energetic professionals to man these institutions and other organizations. Notable in this regards and by no means complete are: 
• Educational professionals (school teachers, etc)
• Medical professionals (nurses, doctors, etc)
• Legal and law enforcement professionals (lawyers, police officers, etc)
• Accountants, Auditors, economists, engineers, architects etc

In that regard education is a mayor and determinate factor in the future level of governance. Thus in striving for excellence in governance to improve the well being the people of St. Maarten it is imperative to foster and cultivate the education of St. Maarteners. This is a shared responsibility of government, parents, and not to forget you; for while government and/or your parents may invest in your education it is you at the end of the day that have to perform and complete your education.

It therefore pleases me to see you here studying in the Netherlands and I encourage you to continue acquiring and building various types and levels of expertise.  In doing so you are doing your part by sending a good message and establishing a yardstick for your peers and future generations; an example and yardstick which is important to ensure the sustainability of available educated professionals and thus to potential for continued good governance. Moreover it is my hope that you will one day put your acquired expertise and skills to use in one of mentioned institutions and/or organizations and in so doing contribute to the further building of St. Maarten.

In closing, as we strive to improve the well being of the people of St. Maarten it is imperative that we continue to invest in education and training. By doing so we will create the conditions necessary to foster and maintain excellence in Governance, a precondition for meeting the challenge of enhancing education, improving health care, reducing poverty, maintaining our culture, protecting our environment and promoting sustainable financial economic development.