The departure of 26 students for the Netherlands on Sunday to further their education no doubt brought out a few tears along with goodbyes to and from loved ones left behind. Their numbers have decreased over the years, as many prefer alternatives in the region.
Although usually more costly to the local government, this is also actively promoted, as the chances of both success and a return home when finished are considered better. Still, some see the leaving of high school graduates in general every year as undesirable “brain-drain.”
While that is a concern, of course, realistically St. Maarten can offer neither all the studies they choose nor even those for professions in demand on the island. There is nothing wrong with giving priority to the latter when providing study financing, but the idea should certainly not to be limit their options too much.
The goal is first and foremost to allow them to develop to their full potential, rather than just filling existing and future vacancies. In fact, when youngsters do well abroad it reflects well on the entire community.
Take the story in Monday’s paper about a Dutch cleaning company owned by three St. Maarteners partnering with Velocity. They are doing their country proud without being here and there are various other, similar examples.
It’s true that several of the “best and brightest” involved may not soon come back, but if that’s what is most beneficial to them, so be it.