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Soualiga Newsday Focus (1320)

Dutch secondary school system too rigid, leads to segregation

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch education council is recommending that first year secondary school pupils should be taught in mixed ability classes so that they get to know people from a wider section of society.

The proportion of mixed ability first year classes, known as brugklassen or bridge classes in Dutch, has gone down from 70% to 55% over the past 10 years, the council says.

Another problem is that many Dutch secondary schools – particularly in cities – no longer offer a mix of academic streams, and children are segregated from other ability groups all together.

‘People end up living in their own clubs and that can create a schism in society,’ the council’s chairwoman Henriette Maaseen van den Brink said in Friday’s Trouw.

The council also says it should be easier for children to switch between different streams – something which has become harder in recent years and which disadvantages late developers.

Dutch children are selected for one of three streams at the age of 12: pre-university (vwo), pre-college (havo) and vocational training (vmbo). Earlier this year, a survey of 2,000 teachers showed three-quarters had faced pressure from parents to recommend children went to a more academic secondary school.

The pressure to avoid vmbo schools led school inspectors in 2016 to say there is an ‘unacceptable’ inequality in Dutch secondary schools and the children of well-educated parents are scoring better in final exams than children of equal intelligence from more disadvantaged backgrounds. (DutchNews)

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Winair expansion and growth efforts Supported. On track after a remarkable comeback

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Stuart Johnson, says that the Government of Sint Maarten and in particular his Ministry and himself, are in full support of Windward Islands Airways International (Winair) expansion and growth plans currently underway.

“I would like to commend the Supervisory Board, Management and Staff of Winair, for their hard work and efforts currently underway and since the passing of Irma to turn things around for our local national airline.

“Winair has accomplished a lot during these challenging times that our nation finds itself in, however, the challenges acted as a motivation to put things in place and make sound-business decisions which has allowed the national airline to expand and grow.

“Management has been closely monitoring the airline’s performance and noticed that seat inventory remained insufficient, and therefore took immediate action to meet the demands of the aviation-travelers market in order to accommodate customer needs.

“Winair’s success is also founded in its relationships developed over the decades with destination partners and stakeholders in the northern and eastern Caribbean.

“We can look forward with confidence that the Staff, Management and Supervisory Board will continue to soar and connect by bringing people together and keeping family and friends in touch with each other especially during this festive time of the year. Hats off to Winair’s Board, Management and Staff on a job well done,” Minister Stuart Johnson said on Thursday.

Winair announced an increase in flights to Haiti as of December 1, 2018, three times a week; and also upgrading to jet service using a Boeing 737, operated by Sunrise Airlines.

The temporary jet service provides additional seat capacity of up to 133 seats per flight, serving Haiti for the holiday winter season.

Winair has also introduced additional capacity from December 1, 2018 to January 15, 2019 to Curacao four times per week using a 72-seater aircraft. Services to Aruba three times a week have also been upgraded to the new Super ATR-72 along with a service to Bonaire one time per week.

Winair is also increasing services between Sint Maarten and the Dominican Republic to a daily basis using the Super ATR-72 and its services to Dominica will increase from four to five weekly.

The national airlines in November received its 4th Twin Otter aircraft that will increase the airlines airlift for the 2018-2019 high tourist season.

Winair expects increased demand for flights to and from its hub at the Princess Juliana International Airport.

“Winair has grown by leaps and bounds since September 2017, and its plans for expansion and growth demonstrates the determination of this little airline which assures us that Winair is on track after making a remarkable comeback,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson concludes.

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Up to 50 soldiers sacked for drugs use every year: Telegraaf

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Defence ministry figures obtained by the Telegraaf show between 30 and 50 military personnel are fired each year because of drugs use.

The paper says 31 members of the armed forces lost their jobs in 2017. A spokesman for the ministry told the paper the estimated long-term average is between 30 and 50 sackings but that exact figures for earlier years are unavailable.

The real number of drug users in the army is probably much higher as one in 10 of the population struggles with an addiction of some sort, according to addiction expert Dick Trubendorffer.

‘There is no reason to think it will be any different in the army,’ he told the paper. In total the Dutch army, which takes a zero-tolerance approach to hard drugs, employs some 40,000 people. (DutchNews)

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Binding referendums one way to boost trust in Dutch political system

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch parliamentary system is outdated, and urgent action needs to be taken to ensure a large percentage of the population again feel represented, according to a government commission set up to look at reforms.

The commission, under the leadership of Noord-Holland king’s commissioner Johan Remkes, has been studying the situation for two years and concludes that updates to the current electoral system are needed.

The last major overhaul took place in 1917 when universal suffrage for men was introduced. Since then, people have become richer, better educated and better informed, the commission says.

However, the gap between the well-educated and low-skilled has become wider, the country is more culturally diverse, and people are more likely to speak their mind due to digitalisation, the commission said.

The low-skilled in particular do not feel that they are being heard and that their interests are not being taken into account in decision-making, and in the long term ‘that is worrying’, Remkes said.

The commission has made a number of recommendations to close the gap in society and make parliament more accountable. These include: The introduction of a binding, corrective referendum for new legislation, with a ‘no’ vote from 33% of the electorate required to have laws scrapped.

More emphasis on preference voting in the national elections, perhaps with an element of regional representation. The person who leads coalition formation talks should be elected, not appointed May 5 (Liberation Day) should be a public holiday Ministers will respond to the proposals in the coming months.

Home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren said in an initial reaction that the cabinet would take up the challenge and that she hoped for a broad public debate. (DutchNews)

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RCN applies premium advantage: employee salaries up by five+ percent as of January 1st

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - The gross salaries of RCN (State Services Caribbean Netherlands) employees will increase by 3.4% as of the 1st of January 2019, in addition to the agreed increase of 1.75%.

This brings the total wage increase in 2019 to 5.15%. The employer RCN discussed this with the unions on Thursday November 29th.

With this, the civil servants benefit from the decision of State Secretary Tamara van Ark (Social Affairs and Employment) that employers’ premiums in the Caribbean Netherlands will decrease with 5% as of January 1st, 2019.

The measure is intended to increase wages and thus increase purchasing power without increasing the costs for the employer. The government expects that other employers in the Caribbean Netherlands will also pass on this burden reduction in the wages of their employees. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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MPs say no-deal emergency legislation plan is undemocratic

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch cabinet’s emergency legislation which it will enact if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal gives the cabinet uncontrollable powers, most parties in parliament say.

The legislation gives a minister the right to change or withdraw laws without parliamentary approval and without being put out to consultation to the Council of State.

‘If something has to be sorted out quickly, parliament can meet on Saturday and it can be implemented on Monday,’ CDA parliamentarian Pieter Omtzigt told current affairs show Nieuwsuur.

‘This emergency legislation has fewer guarantees than a calling for a state of emergency.’ The cabinet has to change the proposed legislation, said D66 MP Kees Verhoeven.

‘Brexit might be a unique situation but that does not mean you can bypass parliament. Haste and panic are the wrong reflexes.’ And GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver has said the legislation ‘is more appropriate to a dictatorship than a democracy’.

However, VVD parliamentary party leader Klaas Dijkhoff said the concern is premature. ‘This emergency law cannot come into effect without parliament,’ he said. ‘We need to strike a balance between proper preparation and being able to act in a targeted way.

But we cannot predict everything, and sometimes parliament will have to lower its voice, if the situation demands it.’

No deal

Foreign affairs minister Stef Blok sent the emergency powers legislation to parliament last month as part of the preparations for a no-deal Brexit, which pundits say is becoming increasingly likely.

He said at the time that the aim is to make sure that people can still travel to the UK without too many problems, and to deal with practical matters, such as the legality of a British driving licence in the Netherlands.

‘The law gives the government the option to take emergency measures,’ Blok said. ‘Brexit is a completely new situation and a no deal Brexit may have far reaching consequences.’ He will discuss the draft legislation with MPs in January. (DutchNews)

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Electric cars prices and distance they can travel put brake on sales

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Although 37% of Dutch consumers are interested in driving an electric car, only 4% plan to buy one within the next two years, according to new research by motoring organisation ANWB.

‘There has been no increase in interest in driving an electric car,’ ANWB director Frits van Bruggen told the Telegraaf. ‘People think electric cars are good for the environment but are still put off by the price.

Most people don’t have the money to buy one.’ In addition, electric cars cost more to use. The ANWB calculates an electric car costs 6% more per kilometre than one powered by petrol.

The increase in distances that electric cars can drive has gone up, but electric cars costing less than €50,000 still have a maximum radius of some 270 kilometres ‘and that is not enough’, Van Bruggen said.

The government is considering subsidising the cost of buying an electric car by up to €6,000 by 2021 as part of its plans to phase out petrol cars altogether. (DutchNews)

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Six more men arrested in Eindhoven following Sinterklaas rioting

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Six more people have been arrested for public order offences in Eindhoven, following the physical and verbal attacks on a small group of anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators during the Sinterklaas procession in Eindhoven last month.

A number of people, including PSV football supporters, threw eggs and beer cans at the demonstrators, and hurled both racist and sexist abuse at them. Six people were arrested on the day itself but police have now picked up six more on the basis of surveillance camera footage.

All are men from Eindhoven aged between 21 and 22. The public prosecution department has not ruled out making further arrests. (DutchNews)

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Two arrested as Dutch police bust cockfighting centre

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch police on Tuesday raided what they said was a centre for training fighting cocks, seizing 51 birds and arresting two people, following a tip-off.

The building in a rural part of Bodegraven, between Leiden and Utrecht, included a closed wheel which was used to train the hens and pens where the birds lived. Local broadcaster Omroep West also showed a photograph of a bucket containing dead birds.

Cock fighting is illegal in the Netherlands, but the hens may have been destined for France, where cock fighting is legal in a few places, the broadcaster quoted the police as saying.

The two men arrested are aged 31 and 38 and come from Zwammerdam and Bodegraven. (DutchNews)

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Decomposed body has not yet been identified. Police continues to seek community assistance

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Police Department has not yet been able to positively identify the person whose decomposing body was found in a shack in the bushes behind the Emergency homes (911 Project) located in Union Farm area, police stated in a statement on Monday.

The body of the male victim was located by residents of that area on Saturday December 1st and as of yet has not yet been identified. According to the report the nick-name of the male victim is “So-So”.

He is between the ages of 75 and 80 years old. The Police Department is asking family-members or anyone who is missing a family member form some time to get in contact with the department by calling 54-22222 ext. 208 or 211.

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