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Progress report 23 June 2020

Progress report Exceptional School project Sint Maarten – Global Grant 18 68450
Sister Marie Laurence Primary School

update 23rd June 2020

Authors: Tanja Frederiks-Vliegen, John Caputo, Gert-Jan van Dommelen

On 6 September 2017 Hurricane Irma hit St. Maarten on 6 September 2017
with immense force. The Sister Marie Laurence Primary School suffered
extensive damage due the passing of Hurricane Irma, and consequently was
entirely looted and completely vandalized, leaving behind literally just
the shell of the school.

Twelve International Rotary Clubs decided to support the “Exceptional School”

project for the Sister Marie Laurence Primary school with funds and vocational

support. The related Global Grant 18.68450 has been approved by The Rotary

Foundation in October 2018.


Project progress has been slow, due to delays of the agreements between the governments of The Netherlands, Sint Maarten and the World Bank, new elections, lack of resources and the Corona crisis. However, recently there are some really great positive developments:


The first training to 13 teachers and staff members of the School has been completed in October 2019.


The establishment of the outside area of the school is in progress. Kick-off of the construction was on 6th March 2020 with an expected reopening early September 2020.


On June 5th, the government of Sint Maarten approved the budget for a project called “Fostering Resilient Learning”, which includes the rebuilding of the Sister Marie Laurence Primary School, one other elementary school and the library. On 20th June 2020 the news came that the preparations for the process of rebuilding the school will start in October 2020. See more about this on page 5.

This report gives an overview of activities and progress so far.

The twelve Participating Rotary Clubs


Hosting Sponsor Club Sint Maarten (District 7020)


Coordinating International Sponsor Club Huizen Gooimeer (NL, District 1570)


International Sponsor Club Eindhoven Zuid (NL, District 1550)


International Sponsor Club Wuppertal (Germany, District 1810)


International Sponsor Club Arendonk (Belgium, District 1630-10)


International Sponsor Club Bodegraven (NL, District 1570)


International Sponsor Club Wall Street (New York USA, District 7230)


International Sponsor Club Singer Island (Florida USA, District 6930)


International Sponsor Club St. Catharines (Canada, District 7090)


International Sponsor Club St. Catharines-Lakeshore (Canada, District 7090)


International Sponsor Club Niagara Falls (Canada, District 7090)


International Sponsor Club Waterdown (Canada, District 7090).

The children

Since September 2018, the children of the Sister Marie Laurence have been distributed over two other schools, see below. Although difficult because of limited space, long travel times for children and parents, the relocation was possible because many children left the island after hurricane Irma (about 75 children from the Sister Marie Laurence school), however these children now return to Sint Maarten and there is a high need for the new school.

The children of group 1-6 located at the St. Dominic Primary School

The children of group 7-8 located at the Sister Magda Primary School (Dutch lessons)

The project

We have designed a school that will be future proof taking into mind several key thoughts and aspects.  The classroom design and layout will be complimentary to the "Exceptional Education" format that the school will pilot; this transformation being a major part of the Global Grant. We also have added a parent's room, where parents can come and use a computer, internet, printer, etc. with the hope that they will be a more active participant in the school.  A community room will allow the Community Council to meet and host events for the overall betterment of the neighborhood as a whole. The school and the outside area will be a multi-functional center and will also serve as hurricane shelter for the community of Middle Region. The Sister Marie Laurence School is designed as a ‘hurricane resistant’ building.

The plan is to create a school and surrounding that is the heart of this depressed neighborhood and an environment that the population will protect and have pride in rather than loot and further damage like what happened after the passing of Irma and Maria. The schools are more than just educational buildings, they also represent central meeting points and are catalyst of higher quality of life in the Antillean districts. 


There has been great support and excitement from the teachers as well as the parents.  We had community briefings where we informed of the progress and the future plans were unveiled and discussed.

Afbeelding met lucht, weg, buiten, atletiekwedstrijd

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving Afbeelding met tafel

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Three parts


Outside area of the school: basketball court, recreational area and playgrounds


New school designed to facilitate inclusive education and multi-functional purposes like community building and hurricane shelter. The Rotary Global Grant supports refurbishment and equipment for the new school.


Training and education program to enable inclusive education.

Status and progress


On 26th September 2019 Minister of State Mr. Raymond Knops of The Netherlands has visited the Sister Marie Laurence School on Sint Maarten.


Minister Knops visited the school accompanied by Mr Claret Connor, National Recovery Programme Board of the government of Sint Maarten, and Mrs. Michelle World Bank Program Director.


They met Tanja Frederiks and the School Board and the minister has been well informed about the need and plans for the school.

Afbeelding met persoon, gebouw, staand, groep

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving Afbeelding met muur, persoon, grond, staand

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving


The first Training has been completed for 13 teachers and staff members of the School in October 2019.


In the weeks of 14th and 21st October the first CPC Training session have been done for the teachers. Costs and Expenses of the Vocational Training Team (1 person traveling to Sint Maarten) have been approved by TRF and have been paid from the Global Grant. This was the first payment from the Global Grant of in total 5,586 USD.

Afbeelding met binnen, plafond, persoon, mensen

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving Afbeelding met persoon, binnen, poseren, plafond

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving


The establishment of the Outside area of the school is in progress.


On 6th March 2020 the kick-off for the outside school area (1st phase basketball court) was formally performed by Rodolphe E. Samuel, member of Parliament and now Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.


The budget for this phase 1 is 27,071 USD from the Rotary Global Grant.


The outside area of the school had been cleaned in March 2020 before the Corona lockdown started. Materials for the fences and the basketball materials have been paid from the Global Grant and will be delivered at the school location on 15th July. The total of the paid invoices is 15,723 USD out of a Grant budget of 27,071 USD.


Construction is being restarted and the expected delivery and reopening of the basketball court is early September 2020.

Afbeelding met tekst, tafel, foto, zitten

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving Afbeelding met binnen, persoon, man, staand

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Afbeelding met persoon, binnen, zitten, mensen

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving Afbeelding met persoon, binnen, groep, staand

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Afbeelding met buiten, weg, straat, gras

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving Afbeelding met buiten, transport, persoon, mensen

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving


On June 5th, the government of Sint Maarten approved the budget for rebuilding two schools and the library including the Sister Marie Laurence school:


The “Fostering Resilient Learning” project will have a maximum budget of $30 million and is aimed at restoring access to inclusive education, learning and cultural services and improving the resilience of St Maarten’s education system. It is expected to finance at least two new school buildings and a new library and is prepared by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) with support of the NRPB.


The Sister Marie Laurence Primary School and the Charles Leopold Bell Primary School are the two schools for which the budget to rebuild has now been approved.


It is expected that the School rebuild will not start this year because of the time required for the technical assessment by the World Bank looks into aspects of safety, environment, sustainability and costs.


Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs told Members of Parliament (MPs) on 4th June during a Parliament meeting that the $30 million funding for the project had been approved by the Trust Fund Steering Committee in July 2019.

Afbeelding met tekst, kaart

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

This project is to restore inclusive education on Sint Maarten and it is also a great opportunity for the community of Middle Region and for the children to get a new perspective for social and economic development. It is about hope, energy and collaboration to make a better future. While safeguarding transparency, fairness and sustainability in all aspects, this is about passion for the people that need this.


Tanja Frederiks-Vliegen

Financial Manager/Project Manager

Tel: 1-721-542-3858/1-721-542-3821

Stichting Katholiek Onderwijs St. Maarten

Foundation Catholic Education St. Maarten

A.J.C. Brouwers Road 6

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

John Caputo

Past President Rotary Club Sint Maarten

Project coordinator for the project Exceptional School

Gert-Jan van Dommelen

President Rotary Club Huizen Gooimeer

Coordinator on behalf of the International Sponsor Rotary Clubs participating in the Global Grant.

Classes 1 - 6 now located at the St. Dominic Primary School