Compulsory Education

Compulsory education is the move that governments make through legislation and actions to ensure that there is access to education for children within a specific age group. Compulsory education for the former Netherlands Antilles was introduced in 1991 and as of August 2009, the phased implementation of compulsory education in St. Maarten started. This means that education will be mandatory for every child between the ages of four and 18 years by 2014.

Registration

Schools have to report the registration of students in their “stamboek” within seven days to the Ministry of Education.

 To Write Out

– Schools have to report within seven days to the Ministry of Education when students have been written out.

– Students can only be written out after they have been registered at another school.

– Students can only be written out after the procedure of expulsion has been completed.

– Students can only be written out if exemption has been granted.

– Relocation

Parents of children with a legal status need to prove that the child is written out from the Census Office.

Exemptions

Parents do not have to send their child to school if:

  • the school is closed
  • the student is ill, etc.
  • the school decides to send a child back home and ask the parents to keep the child at home in case of contagious illness.

 

Unlawful absences, on the other hand, include:

– Parents go on vacation with the child and the vacation is extended;

– Not in school at times other than the scheduled vacation period;

– Unlawful expulsion;

– Unreported suspension;

– Recurrent absence (Social/emotional, development, care, parenting problems).

If students do not attend school, the Truancy Officer must be contacted.

The Truancy Officer does the following:

  • Monitor the compliance of the Compulsory Education law;
  • Grant permission for persons of compulsory age to leave the island;
  • Establish and maintain networks and maintain contacts with various actors;
  • Provide parents and children with the obligations and consequences for non-adherence to the Compulsory Education law.

 Summary of the obligations of the schools

  • The school informs the Truancy Officers within seven days about Registration/Write Out.
  • The school informs the Truancy Officers when a student is removed from school.
  • The school informs the Truancy Officers of unlawful absence of more than three days.
  • The school provides the Truancy Officers with all the information that is necessary for the implementation of their tasks.
  • The school informs the Truancy Officers when a student leaves the school prematurely.

Other regulations under Compulsory Education

  • Students must be in full uniform at all times (during and after exams). Exceptions are made for specially organized activities;
  • Students (4-18 years old) are not allowed to leave the island during school time without written consent of the Truancy Officers. The school cannot give consent for that child to leave. This must be done via the Truancy Officers at the Ministry of Education;

Students (4-18) requesting to leave the island during school time

Permission will only be granted for the following:

  • Funeral
  • Referral by a specialist
  • Relocation

 Nb. Proof must be provided to the Ministry of Education to support the request.

Schools are responsible for students during school hours and it is therefore forbidden to send students home or grant them permission to leave prior to the close of school.

**Adapted from a document prepared by Ruth Verbeek, Peter Suwijn & Roberto Arrindell.