English Immersion School at St. Antonius becomes a reality with the impetus of the Chamber of Commerce

September 25, 2023  –WILLEMSTAD – In 2012, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KvK) stated in its annual address that English is an important language for our education system if we want to become a nation that exports services. This was followed in April 2019 by a KvK report titled “Ban Sembra Awe pa Kosechá Mayan,” which emphasized the need to adapt our education system to the international context and the needs of the local labor market in order to better equip our youth and workforce in world languages. 

This will enable our young people to better connect with the world and provide them with job and business opportunities, thanks to the ability to access unlimited global knowledge, resources, and international networks. Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) indicate that approximately 84% of our workers make a living through jobs in the service industry, with the majority being internationally oriented. 

Therefore, it is a great pleasure for the KvK to witness the start of two kindergarten classes in Group 1 at the English Immersion School St. Antonius School. 

In December 2019, the KvK invited major school boards, namely the RK Central School Board, VPCO, Fundashon pa Skol Humanista na Papiamentu (FSHP), and the International School of Curaçao (ISC), as well as the Ministry of Education, to Discuss How to Improve the Level of Local Education. During these meetings, numerous issues were identified. Ultimately, six focus areas were presented to the Minister of Education with associated projects. 

A stumbling block that was quickly recognized was the less-than-optimal proficiency in world languages, especially English. The KvK chairman was also regularly reminded of this by various business management representatives. 

It is important to note that various studies have shown that schoolchildren can easily pick up (foreign) languages if they start at a young age. 

The RKCS soon decided to work on the establishment of an English Immersion School with the welcomed support of the ISC. Subsequently, the KvK approached the United States Consulate General with a funding request for a needs assessment and fact-finding mission, which was quickly approved by the US State Department. Based on this, two language experts with extensive experience in various countries were hired to develop a curriculum, taking into account the local culture and circumstances. These experts worked closely with an advisory group of local active educators to create the curriculum for Groups 1 to 5 (kindergarten to grade 3), which was shortly thereafter approved by the Ministry of Education. 

What is also important for the Chamber is that our local children can now make almost free use of this English-language education system. The Chamber trusts that it has been able to contribute to the well-being of our youth. 

The Chamber is convinced that St. Antonius College, with English as the language of instruction, will be particularly successful, and it will prove that this school can offer children a bright future due to the tremendous opportunities that the graduating students will enjoy. 

The Chamber expresses the hope that more schools will want to offer this type of education. After all, two surveys have already confirmed the great demand. The first survey conducted by the Think-To-Do Institute found that 87% of the 1000 high school students who participated would have preferred to be taught in English. The second survey, organized by the Chamber, found that approximately 88% of the 515 parents with children up to 6 years old would like to place their child in a school with English as the language of instruction. The Chamber trusts that public schools will also want to follow this example. 

In conclusion, a good command of the global language, English, offers our youth numerous opportunities, including access to jobs in the technology industry, knowledge and information, international networks, university education, entrepreneurship, and exploration of the world. 

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