Greeting to the people of this beloved island, Sint Maarten.
July 18, 2018 marks the centenary of the birth of the freedom fighter and defender of justice, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Respectfully called by his clan name, “Madiba”, he rose up against an apartheid South Africa, using his intellect and non-violent approach to stand up for the right of all people to be treated fairly. In doing so, Mandela represented not only himself and his clan, but all South Africans and the large community of oppressed people around the world.
We are called to honour those who fought for our right to be free, and to be treated equally. We pay homage to those, Madiba as well as men and women like him, who have acted in the interest of the people, even to the point of self-sacrifice. We declare our appreciation for the fruits of their labour that we are privileged to enjoy.
Madiba said, “No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.”
As we reflect on the struggles that our fore-parents endured and overcame, we must also look ahead to the future they dreamed for us. A life of liberation with unity, love and progress for all – this is the vision that still lies before us.
We have built into our DNA the spirit of resilience, to see the hope for a greater comeback after the setbacks. As the flamboyant tree blooms, so we as a people, stand tall and splendorous just ten months after the worst storm to hit our island. Yes, there is yet a lot of recovery needed. Many roofs are still covered with tarpaulin, schools need further repairs, and many persons are without steady income.
This is when the true nature of our culture must shine. There is a risk of losing our identity to desperation – to revisiting the dregs of looter mentality – stealing from each other because one feels justified by his circumstances. We must resist this temptation and denounce any practice of it. As the friendly island that welcomed many to our shores, we must teach those who have joined us and our younger generations that this little island is a safe place for all. As Madiba said, “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
We will look after the interests of our families and our neighbours. As the saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child”, therefore we must play our part in taking care of the next generation. They will become our crown of stars or thorns in our sides, so we must play our part. When you see a child or an adult, say “Good day”, give a smile - small gestures that go a far way. Manners takes us through the world and a smile goes a mile long.
As outlined in our Governing Program which is available to all via our Government’s website, this Ministry in partnership with other relevant authorities, will be focusing on
• rebuilding our schools to make them disaster ready,
• preserving our culture and promoting our national identity,
• adapting the education curriculum to meet the diverse needs of our economy,
• integrate technology for a smart IT market, and
• creating employment opportunities for our youth.
Together, we can ensure that the negativity that seeks to invade us does not take root and redefine who we are.
Together, we will educate and legally integrate those who believe they were born to be here and want to adopt the Sint Maarten Way of life.
Together, we will preserve and promote our culture and identity.
In unity, we will shine as the rare pearl of the Caribbean that we are.
On behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, I wish you and your children the true joys of celebrating Nelson Mandela Day.