Children's Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer visited the Caribbean part of the Netherlands Kingdom last month. She began her working visit on 21 November in St Eustatius, then travelled to Saba and concluded the trip with a visit to Curaçao.
On Saba and Sint Eustatius, Margrite Kalverboer spoke to representatives of various agencies. Among others, she visited the expertise centers for education and care, youth care organizations and the public entities. We see positive developments on the islands, for example in education, childcare and professional support for children.
Many improvements, but also some concerns
Margrite Kalverboer: "A lot has improved since my last visit to the islands. I see that many people are working hard to positively alter the opportunities here for the healthy development of children. Both European-Dutch and Caribbean-Dutch people." Examples of these positive changes include new facilities, such as the new location of the Expertise Centre Education care on St Eustatius, and the expanded provision of after-school activities on Saba.
Some concerns remain though. For instance, about the connection of Caribbean education to subsequent studies in the European-Netherlands, and the home situation and parents' involvement for groups of children. Another concern is that the boundaries of the island restrict children's opportunities, thereby hampering them in growing up to be global citizens. Poverty also still is a major problem, mainly due to low incomes and high living expenses. If families have insufficient money, parents do not get around to parenting, which leaves children to depend on themselves too much.
Ombudsman conference on Curaçao
In Curaçao, the Children's Ombudsman organized an expert meeting with people in the field of children's rights. She talked about her work and provided insight into how to make decisions that put the best interests of the child first. In addition, the Children's Ombudswoman visited a conference on poverty , organized by the ombudsmen of the Kingdom: the ombudsman of Curaçao (Keursly Concincion), of Sint Maarten (Gwendolien Mossel) and of the Netherlands (Reinier van Zutphen). The ombudsmen want to act together in order to put the issue of poverty high on the political agenda.
Tackling poverty is important for children, says Margrite Kalverboer: "Poverty puts pressure on your childhood. Because poverty means having to miss your parents. Solving child poverty therefore starts with supporting parents. These children should not be the next generation of adults (and parents) living up in poverty."