From the Core document Aruba
Article 1.20 of the Constitution of Aruba states that ‘education shall be an object of constant concern on the part of the Government’. This article also stipulates that education may be freely received, without prejudice to restrictions laid down by National Ordinance, with due respect for every person's religion or belief. Furthermore, the Constitution stipulates that the Government must submit annual reports on the state of education to Parliament.
The literacy rate is 98% (among the population aged 10-75). Education spending dropped from 4.75% of GDP in 2000 to 3.9% in 2008. Public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public expenditure is approximately 10.9%.
The government provides after-school care for children in pre-primary and primary education in Aruba. Children from special schools are also admitted to places in regular after-school care. There is also a facility that provides special after-school care for children with learning disabilities.
At present, education in Aruba is not compulsory. However, moves in this direction are far advanced, partly because of the obligations under article 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. School attendance is voluntary, and in this light ASER (Age Specific Enrolment Ratio) percentages are all the more encouraging (an average of 98% at age 4 and 5, 98% at age 6-11, and 91% at age 12-17 in 2008). The ASER shows the education participation rate of the population of a particular age. Source: Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) of Aruba, Research and Statistics section of the Department of Education Aruba, Regional Workshop on Education, Indicators in the Caribbean, Georgetown, Guyana, 13-17 March 1995.
GER is the total enrolment in a specific level of education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education in a given school year. It indicates the capacity of the education system to enrol students from a particular age group.
The Aruban education system is modelled on the Dutch system. The total number of pupils in 2008 was 22,470, of whom 2,707 were in pre-primary education. Primary schools had 9,860 pupils, 524 of whom were receiving special primary education. In total 7,635 students were in secondary education, 2,013 of them in vocationally-oriented secondary education. In 2008 a total of 1,635 students participated in intermediate level vocational education and 633 in higher education. All these figures include enrolment at private schools.
The Government offers students financial support (loans) to enable them to continue their education. The total number of Arubans studying in the Netherlands is about five times higher than in any other foreign country. Since the range of subjects offered by higher education institutions in Aruba has expanded, students have had more options for remaining in Aruba to study. Both higher education institutions – the IPA and UA – are currently in the process of acquiring accreditation for their study programmes.
In the early 1990s the Prisma project was launched with the aim of familiarising non-Dutch speaking lateral students with the Dutch language as soon as possible to enable them to follow the regular school programme. Prisma started as a pilot programme at a public primary school and was later extended to all public primary schools in Aruba. Now the Prisma project is running in all primary schools, supporting all children who need help with the Dutch language, including Aruban children. A group of teachers attended special training for the programme.
The 1999-2008 Strategic Plan for restructuring pre-primary, primary and special education includes a proposal to restructure language use in schools to reflect the current sociolinguistic situation in Aruba, where nearly 70% of the population have Papiamento as their mother tongue (Censo 2000), while still recognising the fact that Dutch is the language of instruction in secondary education and that this is likely to remain the case for some time to come. This has led to a proposal to introduce Papiamento as both a language of instruction and a school subject in primary education, retaining Dutch as the second language of instruction.
The government approved introduction of Papiamento as a language of instruction up to and including 4th grade. The project started in two pilot schools and has so far been implemented in pre-primary education only. The biggest challenge in implementing the project in primary schools lies in the fact that the material/methods in Papiamento are not ready.
Student population, by mother tongue – September 2008, Statistical Yearbook 2008-2009, Department of Education.
In adult education, policy focuses on making education more accessible, with the aim of raising the general level of education among the population, and introducing a culture of lifelong learning in Aruba. More investment in competences and education should allow Aruba to participate more successfully in the global economy.
A Strategic ten-year National Education Plan ("The Learner" 2007-2017) has been approved, highlighting problems and points of concern in the education system. Activities to tackle focus areas are now being developed.
Department of Education Aruba (DEA)