Our Story, By Us
< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
By Marvin A. Hokstam
AMSTERDAM–Derk Vermeer, Chairman of the Board of the Royal Tropical Institute KIT in Amsterdam sounded full of confidence last Monday when he said that all efforts were being made to keep the institute’s historical collections in the Tropical museum and the KIT Library accessible to the public. KIT harbors one of the most comprehensive collections that detail Dutch colonial dealings in the Caribbean, and social media has buzzed alive lately with fears that much of this colonial heritage may get lost per January 1st 2014 when budget cuts take effect. But Vermeer said there is a solution. “I trust that the collection will not get lost; everything that involves our colonial heritage will remain accessible one way or the other,” he said resolutely.
His response may console the thousands of people who have raised their voices in recent months in fear that much of their history on display at the stately building at Mauritskade in Amsterdam would disappear. KIT’s fate has been in the balance since 2011, when Government announced that the institute would have to make do with 20 million euros less in subsidies; with half of their budget gone, , the library will be closed and museum faces in any case a reduction with 23 of the 52 jobs, 35 % of the staff. KIT’s Research and Intercultural Professionals Departments are among the lucky ones to escape unscathed.
“Talk about erasure,” St. Maartener Deborah Jack reacted last weekend when she heard the news. She was one of many who are expressing shock with what some call Dutch disinterest in its colonial history. “Dutch politicians and even a lot of Dutch people wouldn’t mind (the KIT collections disappearing), as they don’t feel that part of their history is important and/or feel it’s an embarrassment they want nothing to do with,” worldly Dutchwoman Sasha Dees commented.
The objections are also taking official form. Close to 10,000 people from all over the world have so far signed a petition that urges the Rutte Kabinet and the Second Chamber to grant structural financing and keep the museum open. The petition called the budget-cuts a “frontal attack on the flagship store of ethnology museums”. Urging preservation of the expertise and the collection at the Tropics Museum for future generations, it warned that “when the prestigious library and museum are closed, knowledge will be destroyed that will never be restored.” The petition will be presented to Government and Parliament on June 17th.
PARAMARIBO, Suriname—Surinamese journalists are kicking off 2013 in high gear, hosting Journalism Week activities from January 21 to 27 that will include training by foreign experts and a Media Exhibition on the development of media in the country. The activities are being organised by the Association of Suriname Journalists, lead by Wilfred Leeuwin, in collaboration with the Association of Caribbean Mediaworkers (ACM).
ACM president Wesley Gibbings will be among the guests from Trinidad. Nick Fillmore, former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) editor and producer and founding member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange will conduct a training on Democracy and Journalism, while veteran Trinidadian journalist, broadcaster and media trainer, Tony Fraser will conduct a training on Covering Corruption.
Gibbings said Suriname Parliamentarians Carl Breeveld, Rehid Doekie and veteran journalists Edward Troon and Nita Ramcharan are also part of the team of resource persons covering subjects like Defamation Laws and Censorship. Suriname’s Vice President, Robert Ameerali will deliver the feature address at the launch of the training sessions on January 24. Director of the Department of Culture Stanley Sidoel will also address the gathering.
Observances also include the launch of a Media Exhibition showcasing the development of media in Suriname. Gibbings said it is not the first time ACM is working with Fillmore. “He has worked with the ACM over the past three years delivering training programmes to journalists and broadcasters in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Guyana. During this trip to the Caribbean, he will also deliver a programme of training in Grenada and meet with journalists and media executives from Trinidad and Tobago,” said the ACM President.
At the launch of the training Monday, Glenn Gersie, Director of Monetary and Economic Affairs at the Central Bank, represented Bank Governor Hoefdraad in picturing the scope of the training to the participants. US Ambassador Jay Anania also addressed the audience.
The training will focus on anti-money laundering techniques and methods for identifying and confronting suspicious financial transactions. The ability to prevent and detect money laundering is a highly effective means of identifying criminals and terrorists and the underlying activity from which money is derived.
The training contributes to Suriname’s compliance with Caribbean Financial Task Force recommendations. It also supports the changes to the sectorial framework laid out in the joint Government of Suriname and Inter-American Development Bank Country Strategy for Suriname 2011-2015. Ambassador Anania expressed the willingness of The United States to continue to work with Suriname on a range of law enforcement, rule of law, fiscal transparency, and regional security cooperation.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands–Carifesta 11, slated for August 16 to 26 2013 in Suriname, is rapidly starting to take shape, and its organizers say they are raising the bar. “This is the premier culture and arts festival of the Caribbean and what we’re planning here is an event that will put Suriname, Caricom and Unasur on the worldmap. That is why we’re striving for the highest possible quality in whatever we put out. We cannot afford to issue the slightest element that is not up to par,” said Management Team Chairman Ivan Graanoogst on Saturday, at the presentation in The Hague of Carifesta’s new logo and website.
The new logo, a colorful design that brings together images of the region’s first inhabitants, Suriname’s Apinti drum and the colors of the Caribbean intertwined with those of the Union of South American States (Unasur), was produced by veteran designer Henna Brunings. The website, which blends pictures of Suriname with information of Carifesta and promises of what to expect in August 2013, was produced by Karel Donk. They were well received at their unveiling in Suriname on Saturday October 27th. To Graanoogst they stood as the ideal models of the quality standards aimed for. Carifesta 11 brings the region’s roving festival back to Suriname for the second time, under the theme “Culture for Development”, suggestive of the intention to not only be a platform for the region’s artisans to show off their talent, but also enable them to turn their trade into business. “In this day in age, it is hardly necessary anymore to travel for business, but the travel and tourism industries are soaring nonetheless. That’s because culture has potential to create business. Carifesta is supposed to create those opportunities,” said Graanoogst.
The event was first held in 1972 in Georgetown, Guyana, and has since been held 10 times, each time turning a different nation into the region’s heartbeat. Suriname first hosted it in 2003. This time around the festival will be centered in the wooden inner city of Paramaribo. Intentions are to make the capital a Festival City that week, so that from the Independence Square and the Presidential Palace, down to the heart of town, people feel that Carifesta is in town. In addition the event will be taken to all corners of the country, with Carifesta stages in remote villages.
AMSTERDAM–As he presented from his book “Het Slavenschip Leusden”, the Slave Ship Leusden that sank off Suriname’s coast in 1738, Dr. Leo Balai had his audience glued to his lips. Balai, who achieved his PhD with his research, brought the horrific reality for captured Africans to life in such a tangible manner that people could almost see the inhumanity happen. “It didn’t always leave me undone. I often had to remind myself that to be able to deal with the information I unveiled, I had to see it in light of the spirit of that day. The transatlantic slave trade was an industry aimed at making a profit. An organisation with intricate planning and execution that brought the European powers of those days together. Everybody played a role; Europeans who purchased captives in Africa and Africans who sold them and even travelled along as “Bombas” on the slave ships to work as intermediaries. The goods of this trade were not seen as people, but merely as merchandise. That’s why they were referred to as nappy cattle,” Balai said.
Balai’s presentation was held at the headquarters of the Foundation Ons (Our) Suriname, as part of a series of activities to commemorate 150 years abolition of slavery and to shine light on the slavery history of the Netherlands. Balai’s book is one of the few publications that focuses on the ships that enabled the transatlantic slave trade. The writer explained his motives: “Not much research has been done on slave ships, which were indispensable for the transport of African captives to the territories in the Americas. This is remarkable because the treatment of captives on the slave ships may give us a clearer picture of how this forced transport of people was organized.”
An educational contribution by Patrick Maher
According to the United Nations Development Programme, the rate of illiteracy in Suriname stands at 7%, and the country’s literacy rate ranks 88th out of 183 countries. That puts Suriname slightly above the median but well below the 47 countries that boast literacy rates of 99%. So what can be done about this? Surprisingly, research shows parents are just as responsible for the development of their child’s literacy skill as an educational system, so the issue of Suriname’s lagging literacy rates must be addressed at home. There are some simple steps parents can take to help their child become fluent readers.
First, read to your child from the very first day they are born and make it a part of your daily routine. When you read stories, use a lot of expression and you can even act out words and scenes. This helps bring meaning to texts. As your child grows older, encourage them to ask questions about what they read, have them make predictions, and ask what they would do if they were the main character. Next, talk about the books you’ve read after they’ve been closed by making connections to the world around you. For example, if you’ve read a story where a mother and child make pancakes, try doing it yourself and compare your experience to what you’ve read in the book. Interactions like these help bring meaning to books, not only for your children, but to yourself.
As parents, we also need to expose our children to reading outside of books. Throughout the day, we come across countless experiences where we use our reading skills. Share these encounters with your child, but if you find your child is getting tired of all your literacy teachings, just think aloud to yourself. For example, if you see a billboard in your neighborhood advertising for a new restaurant, you might say, “Wow, it says a Mexican restaurant is opening in Suriname. It says they have great tacos.” When you eat at the restaurant, you can verbally refer back to the sign you saw as you read the menu and look for the price of tacos. These type of interactions help bring meaning to the text in your child’s world.
One of the most important factors is for parents to tap into their child’s interests. If your kids love animals, then read all about animals to them. If they have an interest in a certain toy, then research facts about the toy on the Internet and see what you can find. The bottom line is you must role model how being literate improves your life.
In Suriname, we need to stop the cycle of illiteracy for the 7% who are unable to enjoy the wonders of reading. Sadly, illiterate parents tend to produce illiterate children, For these families, social outreach by caring community members is likely the only way we can improve their reading abilities and increase our mediocre literacy rate.
Patrick Maher is the author of Pleng’s Song, a novel designed to help bi-lingual children become fluent in English.
If you are a Suriname resident, you can email him for a free eNovel, at firstname.lastname@example.org
List of World Literacy Rates by Country – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_rate
PARAMARIBO–Suriname will soon receive a $13.7 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to improve the quality of education.
The loan, which has been approved by the IDB, will support Suriname’s plan to strengthen the efficiency and quality of the new basic education system in the country, along with supporting educational outcomes for students from pre-primary through junior secondary.
“Improving the learning outcomes in core subjects of Dutch and mathematics, training all of Suriname’s approximately 5,000 primary school teachers, supporting efforts to streamline the education system and exploring the use of information and communication technologies in schools will dramatically improve graduates’ ability to access the labour market,” said IDB project team leader Annelle Bellony.
The IDB will finance Suriname’s two-phased education programme, with the first phase addressing the curriculum framework for the basic education system and the second addressing the learning outcomes of students in grades 1 to 8. The loan is for a 20-year term, with a four-year grace period and a LIBOR-based interest rate.
Suriname’s government is contributing $750,000 to the programme’s budget.
By the Caribbean Journal
By Dr. Ludmilla Wikkeling-Scott, President Public Health Alumni Chapter, Morgan State University, School of Community Health and Policy
PARAMARIBO- The shortage of health care workers, particularly nurses, is a phenomenon, felt from Canada to Argentina. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report of 2011, “transforming the health care system to provide safe, quality, patient-centered, accessible, and affordable care will require a comprehensive rethinking of the roles of many health care professionals, nurses chief among them. To realize this vision, nursing education must be fundamentally improved both before and after nurses receive their licenses.”
The nursing shortage is felt in other areas of the world as well, wherefore it should come to no surprise that the Academic Hospital, Paramaribo (AZP) launched its new curriculum on Friday, May 4, 2012 with the support of the Ministry of Health and its partner, St. Vincentius Hospital, a private catholic hospital in the same city.
During this very important event, AZP Medical Director, Lindy Liauw Ki Fa was very optimistic as she explained, AZP is well on its way to decreasing the lingering Nursing shortage, which is detrimental to the future of Suriname’s health care and Nursing Education. The AZP has felt the burden of a 120 nursing staff shortage for quite some time and can no longer afford to move slow. “A critical step in overcoming this shortage has been the overhaul of the nursing curriculum,” explained Patricia Baumgart, developer of the curriculum on Friday.
The new curriculum improves nursing education by incorporating existing nursing education material and creates a hands-on program, where instruction and practice are well-balanced. More importantly, this curriculum allows Suriname’s standards of nursing education to compete with “Global Standards for the Initial Education of Nurses and Midwives” as set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2001. These standards were set in place to establish educational criteria and assure outcomes that are based on evidence and competency; promote the progressive nature of education and lifelong learning; and ensure the employment of practitioners who are competent and who, by providing quality care, promote positive health outcomes in the populations they serve.
The global standards are in place such that “each country will have an adequate and sustainable source of health professionals, trained within the context of current and future issues in patient safety and quality of care, and trends in shortages of nurses and midwives and workforce migration.”
PARAMARIBO–The Regional Sports Academy saw its first day of classes last April 13th. Leading up to this day, the school that will take sports in the Caribbean to new levels, observed a week of introductory and teambuilding activities for students and teachers.
The RSA is an initiative of Suriname, and was fully embraced by other Caricom member states, as it fits well into the growing curve of the Caribbean sports culture. Suriname holds the portfolio for sports within Caricom and holds the view that that sport can play a vital role in contributing towards its further development, since sport is an important tool to address critical health, social and developmental issues. Sports can provide youth with a positive future regarding their personal development. Sports means investments, but it also means foreign currency income for families and for our countries. Through the establishment of a unique Regional Sports Academy, the sports industry in the region will be generated and elevated to international standards.
While working toward its own facilities, the Center uses the facilities of the Suriname army. The facilities that will eventually be set up in 220.000 m2 plot of land, amid the alluring jungle of the country, will include, aside from sports fields and classrooms, dorm rooms and hospitality facilities for visiting family of foreign students. The RSA is meant to benefit all member states of the Caribbean Community. Its structure and curriculum were developed together with UWI scholar Dr. Morella Joseph and the board of the center comprises a seven man team of Caribbean experts. Cooperative programs are in the works with the University of the West Indies, to eventually accommodate their students who want to study sports professionally.
The Sports Academy was launched during the Caricom Intersessional Meeting in Paramaribo in March, in the presence of all Heads of State. The first group of students who will go for a Certificate in Sports Studies started in March; the second group starts in September
Michael Watson, Permanent Secretary of Sport in the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs said in his opening lecture that governments around the globe recognize the importance of sport and therefore include sport in their national policy agenda. “Governments are responsible for the development of their country and have to implement policy that enables that development. The decision of the government of Suriname to establish the Regional Sport Academy (RSA) is a concrete action to fulfill this responsibility,” he said.
PARAMARIBO–The US Embassy in Paramaribo has announced an essay contest in honor of World Press Freedom Day and in memory of journalist and former Embassy employee, the late Selvyn “Cliff” Djamin. Journalists and journalism students are invited to submit essays on this year’s theme of World Press Freedom Day “New voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies”.
The winner will receive, among other prizes, the Selvyn “Cliff” Djamin award; Djamin, a local journalist, served as the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy Assistant, 2003-2009. After working for the embassy he had returned to De West daily as its Adjunct Editor in Chief, where he suddenly died in 2011. “Journalism was Cliff’s passion, and whether working with the Embassy or as a broadcast or print reporter or editor, or as a teacher – being a media advocate was Cliff’s professional commitment and contribution,” the embassy wrote in a press release. It said Cliff was a strong believer in democracy and the freedom of the press. “He connected journalists in this way, and helped to build bridges and mutual understanding between Suriname and the United States. For this, we plan to honor him each year on World Press Freedom Day.”
The 2012 winner will be awarded SRD 1,000.–, lunch with the US Ambassador and a plaque. If the winner consents, the winning essay will be offered to all Suriname newspapers and media outlets for publication.