PM hands out certificates – Democratic Dialogue course wraps up at USM

POSTED: 09/19/13 11:55 AM
USM certificates
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams sits with participants who successfully completed the UNDP’s course on democratic dialogue at the University of St. Martin. Photo Today / Milton Pieters

St. Maarten – “I really want to thank all of you for participating,” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said yesterday at the University of St. Martin (USM) where she handed out certificates to successful students in the Democratic Dialogue course. It was part of the United Nations Development Plan’s (UNDP)’s Virtual School and is connected with St. Maarten’s National Development Plan (NDP)since becoming a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Among the course’s graduates was former Minister of Health, Maria Buncamper-Molanus.

The prime minister expressed her hopes “for this to continue to champion coming together for St. Maarten.” She expressed her gratitude that the course participants had “taken up the challenge and run with it.”

Attracting a varied cross section of the St. Maarten public, the prime minister said the course was important for the progress of the NDP and “for conversations that are part of that.” She told the gathered group that “we are very proud with the turnout.”

Wescot-Williams also said that if the group thought that just because the course ended does not mean it’s over. “We gave you that tool to assist us with democratic dialogue, to get that going,” the prime minister explained. “We will all be proud of that product, the NDP. The means are just as important as the plan itself.”

The prime minister then handed out the course certificates to the successful candidates and took some photos with the entire group gathered.

After having achieved a new constitutional relationship within the Kingdom, St. Maarten now has greater access to institutions like the UNDP and its sister organizations at the UN. The course was designed to provide its students with an understanding of methodology of internationally known best practices, adapted to St. Maarten’s particular social and political needs.

According to the UNDP’s Virtual School website: “This short self-paced course seeks to create awareness for the use of dialogue as a tool to overcome problems, transform conflicts and empower social change. This course is designed to assist public figures, organizers and promoters of public dialogue such as: political and social leaders and decision makers, media professionals, students, UN staff and international counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

USM has indicated there will be a follow up to the course with an emphasis on face to face discussions with key stakeholders on what the island most requires.

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