PHILIPSBURG—Grisha Heyliger-Marten says there is a language barrier on St. Maarten where Dutch is the language of instruction at schools while most of our society communicates in English.
The language barrier limits the ability of residents to access a large portion of their benefits and especially young people’s ability to unlock their full potential. Heyliger-Marten is the number four candidate on the United People’s Party slate for January 9, 2020, Parliamentary Elections.
She says many have tried in the past but failed to stand up for what they believe to be true. Educators have commented for years about the challenge the language barrier poses for students. “If our educators tell us this, as politicians, we should take heed and stand up.” “I will stand up for you,” said Heyliger-Marten.
“We cannot deny that English is the native language of our people. Creating different groups in our small society where language barriers limit our ability to communicate and reach a wider audience makes it impossible even for the government to convey important information to the population,” said Heyliger-Marten.
As a candidate on the UP-Party’s slate for the snap elections, Heyliger-Marten intends to champion several issues, which she says are at the root of many ills affecting our society. She opined that to overcome some of our problems, we will need to enact or amend legislation to better reflect the social and economic circumstances of St. Maarten.
She says “Education empowers and is a means of development of our society to be better employed. Her contention is that while the mother tongue of the average citizen on St. Maarten is English, the language of instruction for some schools is still Dutch. The United Nations identifies language as one of the keys to unlocking real international cooperation and bringing about solutions to humanitarian, cultural, social and economic challenges.
“Why are we forced to communicate in Dutch, settle legal disputes in Dutch, attempt to access healthcare information in Dutch, attempt to comply with laws on taxation in Dutch when most of us do not speak Dutch?”
“The UP Party has always been about inclusion since my husband formed it ten years ago, and our goal is inclusion. But, Dutch as a language of instruction, ignores the over 100 different nationalities that makeup St. Maarten’s population. We can make life better for everyone.” She is concerned that Parliamentarians aren’t all able to communicate fluently in Dutch yet are required to vote on amendments to laws written in Dutch.
Where do we stand as a people, knowing only a small fraction of people worldwide speak the Dutch language? More than 20 per cent of the world’s population studies to further their education in English?
Heyliger-Marten and the other 22 Candidates from the UP Party will be hosting their first political meeting on Friday evening in Sucker Garden during which they will outline their strategy for improving the lives of Residents.