Soualiga Newsday Focus

Soualiga Newsday Focus (1001)

Maastricht, Twente universities may face court for having ‘too many English courses’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A lobby group campaigning for better education in the Netherlands is taking Maastricht and Twente universities to court for offering too many degree courses in English.

The Beter Onderwijs Nederland association says the two universities are breaking the law because they are offering English language courses without good reason to do so. The school’s inspectorate is also being taken to court by BON for failing to take action against the two universities.

‘The law states explicitly that educational establishments should promote Dutch language skills,’ chairman Ad Verbrugge told the Volkskrant. ‘Students should learn to express themselves as precisely as possible in Dutch.

This is an essential part of academic learning.’ BON has singled out Maastricht and Twente because they have gone ‘much too far’ in introducing English, Verbrugge said.

The use of English in Dutch higher education has become a political hot potato and education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven has promised to publish her vision in June.

In a joint paper published on Monday, the Netherlands’ higher education institutions said the number of courses given in English should be capped in an attempt to contain the growing number of international students.

An upper limit would allow the sector to ensure universities remained accessible to Dutch students, the VNSU said.


The institutions also said that matriculation and course fees for students from outside the European Union should be raised. Students from EU countries have the right to pay the equivalent fees to their Dutch counterparts, currently around €2,000.

In August 2016, the Volkskrant reported that 60% of the 1,632 different degree courses at the country’s 13 universities are now in English.

When it comes to master’s degrees, just 30% are taught in Dutch and three universities only offer master’s degrees in English. Some 75,000 foreign students are currently studying at Dutch universities and hbo colleges, accounting for around 10% of the total student body.

Students from Germany, China, Indonesia, Poland and Belgium are most likely to stay in the Netherlands to work after they graduate. (DutchNews)


Child, taken from foster home, is with family members in Lithuania

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The five-year-old girl who was snatched from her foster family by her biological mother on Sunday evening is no longer officially missing, police said on Friday.

Deimante Zasytyteis now living with her mother and other family members in Lithuania and the girl is not in physical danger, police said. The girl was taken from the foster family’s home in Maastricht and driven away in a silver car at around 10.20pm on Sunday.

Social workers and the public prosecution department are now trying to get in contact with the family and decide what steps to take next. In total 288 children in the Netherlands were reported kidnapped and taken abroad by a parent last year, according to new official figures published this week.

Most children were taken to Poland and Germany, followed by Belgium, the UK, Turkey and Morocco. In 70% of cases, the child was taken by their mother. (DutchNews)


Dutch superyacht yards set new records for market value and share

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Like superyachts themselves, the Dutch share of the superyacht building industry keeps getting bigger. The Holland Yachting Group says the Dutch saw their market share in the total value of global superyacht deliveries rise by 7.6% to almost 30% in 2017.

With 23 new orders on the books, there is much more to come in the years ahead, the group said. ‘In essence, the Dutch are selling more superyachts at a higher total value, while also steadily increasing their market share over the past five years’.

The Dutch yachtbuilding industry defines a superyacht as being over 30 metres in length. The 21 deliveries of boats over 30 metres made in 2017 were made by 10 different yards.

The superyachts concerned had a total value of €1.19bn, which translates into an average price of €57m per superyacht, an increase of almost 10%.

It is also the highest total value recorded to date, Holland Yachting Group said. Germany, Italy and the Netherlands – in no particular order – are the world’s leading superyacht builders.

Germany specialises in larger yachts, Italy in series production, while the Netherlands specialises in custom-built yachts in the 24 to 70 metre sector. (DutchNews)


Strict Protestant father of 19 is guilty of systematically beating his children

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A staunchly Protestant father of 19 children has been jailed for two years for repeatedly beating his children with a piece of wood and locking them up in the attic, an old potato shed and a shipping container.

Henk Koelewijn was arrested in September 2016 after a number of his adult children made a police complaint against him. The family live in isolation on an industrial estate in Bunschoten, a small town north of Amersfoort, where religious parties dominate in local politics.

‘It is a very religious family. The father takes all the decisions,’ RTV Utrecht reporter Mark van der Wel told tv chat show RTL Late Night last year. According to court documents, Koelewijn ruled his home with an iron fist and he told a television show several years ago that the Bible justifies beating children.

The court found Koelewijn, 57, guilty of systematically beating his children and locking them up in confined places. However, there was no evidence that he had sexually abused one daughter, judges said.

Koelewijn, who spend one year in custody ahead of the trial, will now be sent home, pending an appeal. However, he has been given a five-year ban on contacting any of his children and grandchildren. (DutchNews)


Civil Servants return from World Bank training in Santo Domingo

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The World Bank Group recently organized a training on the 'New Procurement Regulations for Investment Project Financing (IPF) Borrowers' within the Caribbean region. The training was held in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic from May 8, to May 11, 2018.

The Netherlands established the recovery Trust Fund for Sint Maarten following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. The World Bank Group was designated by the Netherlands as the Trust Fund manager.

This means that Sint Maarten will utilize World Bank procedures for the procurement of goods, services and works financed through the Trust Fund.

In light of this, three (3) Civil Servants of the Interim Recovery Committee (IRC Committee), that will be tasked with the execution of procurement according to World Bank procedures, attended the training on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.

The training was conducted by World Bank Group Procurement specialists, with the following objectives:

  • Implementation of the first two years of the Bank’s Procurement Regulations for IPF Borrowers, based on experience of the borrowers with emphasis on how the Regulations have been applied in the Caribbean.
  • Explore the new instruments introduced by the Regulations, including the Project Procurement Strategy for Development (PPSD) and the procurement plan.
  • Learn about the specific aspects of conducting procurement under the Regulations.
  • Preview about the Bank’s new IT platform for procurement.

Approximately sixty (60) delegates were in attendance, representing the Caribbean Region, Latin America, along with member states of Caribbean intergovernmental organizations such as Caribbean Communities (CARICOM) Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

During the training, the Sint Maarten team utilized the opportunity to gather specific information and best practices related to the Sint Maarten recovery Trust Fund.


Ombudsman Arduin reports on productive meeting at UN Headquarters

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Upon invitation of the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) to witness the launch of its recent publication on the history of the IOI at the Headquarters of the United Nations (UN) in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the institute, Dr. Arduin represented the Caribbean and Latin American region at the event as the Regional President on the IOI Board.

The event aimed to provide a platform for exchange between the IOI, the UN and other relevant stakeholders, as well as discuss the role of Ombudsman institutions in implementing the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), identifying the challenges, opportunities and best practices in this context.

Since the inception of her election to the IOI Board in 2012 on behalf of the Caribbean and Latin American region, Dr. Arduin has consistently argued that the needs and vulnerability of the region should not be overlooked by the stronger nations, due to its size and or economical position.

The region requires due attention to meet the goals targeted to transform our world. A statement made during the remarks offered by the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN in New York, that sometimes discussions on high levels take place in the abstract, justified the presence of the representatives of all IOI regions to the event.

Active participation of Ombudsmen of all regions in global discussions and sharing best practices, contributes to greater understanding of everyday life experienced by people globally.

Subsequently, the Ombudsman attended the meeting of the IOI Executive Board in Toronto, followed by a Regional Board Meeting, chaired by Dr. Arduin as Regional President, and a General Board Meeting.

The Regional Board Meeting was particularly important with regard to exchange of thoughts and best practices applied in Latin America with regard to monitoring of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

The plan of action for people, planet and prosperity to structurally deal with the 2030 Agenda is hardly being discussed, or visible on Sint Maarten.

Special attention was requested for (possible) threats faced by Ombudsman institutes as a result of natural disasters as experienced in the Caribbean last year.

The threat of losing relevance instead of support nationally or locally to execute its mandate to protect the rights of the people in the wake of devastation has been acknowledged, and possible actions available through the IOI discussed.

The Ombudsman showed appreciation and thanked the IOI Board for assisting the region in the aftermath of the hurricanes with a grant to remain visible through an infomercial, a financial contribution to the Office of the Complaint Commissioner in the BVI to help restore its infrastructure, and assistance to the Caribbean Ombudsman Association (CAROA) to improve web communication among Ombudsman institutions in the region.


MPs prepare to debate Dutch airport strategy and end of flight restrictions

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – MPs from the right-wing Liberal VVD back increasing the number of flights to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport beyond the current 500,000 maximum, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of a debate on the future of Dutch airports, VVD MP Remco Dijkstra said that calling a halt to flights is not an option. ‘That would damage our attractiveness as a place to do business, for the economy and will cost jobs,’ he is quoted as saying by NOS.

Lelystad airport is supposed to open to take charter flights from Schiphol but that plan has been delayed until 2020 because of the problems aircraft noise will cause to locals.

The VVD and VDA both want to see Lelystad in use as soon as possible but the other government parties – D66 and ChristenUnie – say they are concerned that airspace restrictions will make this impossible.

Meanwhile, people living close to the Netherlands’ six airports have formed a joint protest group LBBL to campaign for flight restrictions and a tax on kerosene. They also want the government to make more effort to stimulate shorter train trips within Europe so that shorter flights can be scrapped. (DutchNews)


Netherlands Investment Institution closes down, citing lack of projects

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands Investment Institution, formed four years ago by pension funds and insurance companies to invest in the Netherlands, is winding itself up because of a lack of projects.

The fund was set up by some of the biggest Dutch pension funds plus Aegon and ASR following political pressure to encourage institutional investors to put more money into the Netherlands.

The initial target was €1bn in investments but with the total stalling at €360m, the company has now decided to close down, the Financieele Dagblad said on Tuesday.

‘The lack of suitable projects has been the biggest disappointment,’ NLII director Loek Sibbing told the paper.

For example, major infrastructure projects find it easy to find investors while other projects investigated by the NLII, such as heat transport from Rotterdam port and boosting the sustainability of schools, were not cost effective, he is quoted as saying.

The institute’s own website puts a different spin on the closure, stating that ‘after launching three investment funds and carrying out an inventory of financing demand, the NLII has completed its role.’ (DutchNews)


Mosquito Breeding Site Elimination & Cleaning Up Campaign on moves into other communities this week

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Mosquito Breeding Site Elimination & Cleaning Up Campaign vector control team members from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) starting in the week of May 14th will be heading into the districts of Cul the Sac, Mary’s Fancy, Saunders, Betty’s Estate, Ebenezer and St. Peters to carry out an assessment.

As the vector control team visits and assesses the aforementioned residential areas, the team is asking for the cooperation and collaboration of the residents of the areas to be on alert for the visit of the mosquito apprentice vector control team.

Community cooperation of the team is requested to ensure a proper assessment.  The assistance of all residents is needed in order to beat the mosquito that carries various types of vector borne diseases.

This project has two parts, firstly an assessment of mosquito breeding site elimination debris and bulky waste by the vector control apprentices; and secondly, the removal of the identified hurricane debris and bulky waste in coordination with the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI). This project is a collaborative effort between Ministry VSA and VROMI under the umbrella of VSA’s Cash for Work project which is presently financed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Ministry VSA covers other costs such as materials and the participation of civil servants.

The 15-member strong team of vector control apprentices, last week revisited the residential areas of Sucker Garden, Middle Region and Dutch Quarter in order to re-assess the homes that needed assistance in picking up Hurricane debris and bulky waste.

The team also revisited homes whose owners/authorized tenant were not present during its 1st cycle of the yard inspection.

During this project the residence in the identified areas are requested to collaborate ensuring open homes for assessments, if there are any concerns or questions, members of the community can call the Collective Prevention Services at 542-1570 for the project coordinator, Mr. G. Davelaar to obtain additional information.


New patient monitoring for the SMMC Pediatric ward

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL)– The St Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) Pediatric ward has received new patient monitoring devices. The provision of the devices was made possible by the generosity of the AFAS Foundation. 

The AFAS Foundation is part of AFAS, a company based in the Netherlands specialized in software development for different industries. AFAS Foundation supports projects within healthcare, education and society around the world by provision of necessary funding.

The foundation provided the SMMC with 12 devices, both mobile and wall mounted. The new patient monitoring equipment was distributed by the Andar International, a Caribbean provider of world-class medical products and services. 

An Andar representative technician was on hand for the device set-up and software training of the pediatric staff. Mr. Pim Steinmeijer, director of AFAS Caribbean, visited the hospital and was able to observe the monitors in use within the Pediatric ward.

Up-to-date patient monitoring is vital when working in a pediatric environment as children, with their smaller and more fragile frames require accurate monitoring. The new devices provide improved monitoring capabilities for the pediatric ward staff and its patients.

In addition, the advanced software capabilities of the new devices provide more functions and vivid imagery. The devices, which are made by Japanese manufacturer, Nihon Khon are equipped with the newest monitoring software. 

The monitoring software is said to be able to improve patient safety and outcome by better helping to identify deteriorating condition earlier. This can help with clinical intervention. 

The St. Maarten Medical Center is very appreciative to the AFAS Foundation for their generous donation. The addition of new equipment in the pediatric ward is part of SMMCs continued commitment to provide better health care close to home.

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