photo: Esther Henry

ORANJESTAD – “For me personally, I don’t really like when it doesn’t make that much sense. They don’t know where the student was or what the student was doing”, says GvP student Shadrach Blair(15) from Statia.


GvP student Shadrach Blair
GvP student Erika Simmons

“I find sometimes it’s unfair depending on the situation. For example, if you are sick or forgot your letter or something. Then it’s not right to be punished when it’s not your fault,” stated GvP student Erika Simmons(15).

Truants who skip more than 64 hours of school will be receiving a HALT punishment. Which is a alternative punishment the prosecutor can enforce.

Less absenteeism
The law (Leerplichtwet BES) indicates after every four weeks schools send information concerning absenteeism. A student is not allowed to be more than 16 hours absent within that period.

“Prosecutor for Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire Henk Jan Starrenburg requested a half year absenteeism overview of the 285 students. This is an exceptional request,” stated Rosalie Edelstein Principal of the Gwendoline van Putten School on Statia. As usually they request a term.

“The requested information came up to 0.3% – 0.4% absenteeism in a half year. Approximately seven students of the 285 fell into the category between 20 – 40 hours absent. One student had 17 hours which we added him to the group as well”, says Edelstein.

Nadjesca Henriquez Truancy Officer concludes: “After the implementation of this law, there was a huge decrease in GvP to a zero absenteeism.”

Some students do support the law, like Milinda Spanner (16).

GvP student Statia. Foto: Esther Henry

“In my opinion, it’s kind of okay because then you teaching children is your responsibility to be coming to school on time. For a student in Form 4 as my last year, I do need to have discipline to coming school early. Because when I leave the island coming to school late for three days or more I will be suspended and I will get expelled.”