PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Members of Parliament for the Party ForProgress (PFP) Faction, Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson sent questions on Monday, 1 February 2021 to the HonorableMinister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport, Minister Rodolphe Samuel regarding the status of the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA). This is in addition to questions submitted by Gumbs separately on the state of the public schools.
PFP asked for an update on two key areas of NIPA: student numbers and the institute’s financial status in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. They queried specifically whether any cost-cutting measures had been taken at a board or management level, whether through stipend or benefit cuts, or in the number of hours put in by course instructors.
“The importance of NIPA cannot be understated,” the faction noted in a media statement. “COVID-19 has put a strain on all academic institutions and we can imagine that NIPA is no exception. It’s critical that any steps that can be taken to mitigate current risks, like low student enrollment, and to protect it from future shocks like COVID are explored.”
The faction concluded by requesting an update from Minister Samuel on the status of the Director’s position at NIPA, expressing their confusion at learning that listed director Sergio Blomont was no longer in the role. Press coverage of NIPA’s Nursing School opening ceremony mentioned Ian McIntosh as the ‘Interim Director.’ PFP questioned why Blomont had been removed, as well as what the duration of McIntosh’s time as ‘Interim Director’ was expected to be.
“The opening of the nursing school was well covered in local press,” the faction continued in their media statement, “but we were curious to note that Mr. McIntosh was mentioned as the ‘Interim Director.’ To our knowledge, there has no formal announcement of Blomont leaving or being removed from the role he played in leading and managing the school, so we’re curious to know why he is no longer in this position. All due respect to Mr. McIntosh and his professional background, but Mr. Blomont is a St. Maartener with essentially the same credentials as his apparent ‘interim’ replacement. So, we believe some clarity is needed in this situation.”