PHILIPSBURG:--- On Monday, January 23, 2023, Independent Member of Parliament S. Ludmila Duncan submitted a proposal to the Presidium and Members of Parliament on the creation and implementation of a Digital Thesis Library.
The United Nations has adopted January 24 as the International Day for Education; 2023’s theme is ‘to invest in people, prioritize education.’ Today MP Duncan emphasizes the need to bridge the knowledge gap at all levels in society; “in addition to the fact that we need to ensure that St. Maarten’s children receive the quality, inclusive and relevant education they deserve, we must also acknowledge that education is the key to the sustainable development of this country and focus on increasing our national capacity to make more effective decisions.”
“Every year, hundreds of our students finish high school and either move abroad or attend our local university to pursue their tertiary education. One of the main components of achieving a degree is the successful completion of a thesis or dissertation. Often, the research that has been conducted by our students provides new perspectives on problems facing the country as well as possible policy solutions. Unfortunately, however, it appears that little to no attention is given to this valuable research by officials in both the executive and legislative branches. Policymakers may not know about research that has been conducted nor are students aware that their academic research could be of great value to Government and Parliament. I hope to change that. I see opportunities in this gap,” stated Duncan.
In the proposal submitted to Parliament, Duncan makes a case for the creation of a digital repository for academic dissertations, research, and working papers, that may be easily accessible to all. This, she also believes, engages the diaspora in a way that may help St. Maarten with its capacity issues. “The Dutch Second Chamber has a Department for Analysis and Research that actively sets and executes a knowledge agenda for MPs in order for them to effectively monitor policy, legislate and become informed on public issues, historical matters, etc. This digital library may be the first step in strengthening St. Maarten MPs with objective, evidence-based information,” noted Duncan.
Duncan acknowledged the work of two St. Maarteners in the Netherlands who successfully defended their theses in 2021 on research surrounding the Landfill; arguably St. Maarten’s greatest man-made disaster. “I have read and referred to the works of Ms. Chantelle Jessurun whose Master's thesis focused on the resettlement of the inhabitants on the Dump and Ms. Emani Gumbes whose Bachelor's thesis focused on ways to reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill. Their work and the countless other dissertations produced on St. Maarten-specific issues should be actively utilized for both policy and legislative purposes. I am hoping that our students will understand that even though they are not physically living or working on St. Maarten, they can effectively contribute to decision-making as diasporic professionals abroad,” added the MP.
Duncan’s proposal also highlights the possibility for Members of Parliament to supervise or sponsor thesis research; assisting students who need sponsorship or internships in order to complete their academic requirements. The MP believes that this initiative can be of immense and mutual benefit to both Parliament and students abroad.
“I am confident that this proposal will be received positively. I will be requesting a Central Committee meeting to present it formally. I will also be sending the proposal to student organizations for their input. Once the proposal has been accepted and an implementation plan made, I see this becoming a valuable tool that Members of Parliament can use to do their jobs more effectively. At the end of the day, developing this country will take efforts from St. Maarteners at home and abroad, in all capacities. We are in it together,” concluded Duncan.