What’s in a piece of paper? Hope. Recovery.

When urged to excel, finish school, graduate successfully with a framed diploma on the wall, I remember asking, what’s in the piece of paper, that’s so important?!

While debating the merit of school, I did what I was told, finished school and graduated successful. I never framed the diploma, but it delivered all that it was said to deliver, career opportunities and personal growth.

This week the International School of Aruba together with the Ministry of Education announce a GED program, starting in August 2017.  The launch of the GED, General Educational Development, delivers hope for those whose education was interrupted, who are now adults in need of a diploma. The GED offers recovery providing candidates demonstrate competency in four areas: English, Math, Science and History. Plan B is also available in the form of English Proficiency classes, so candidates with limited English skills can work on that challenge, prior to  enrollment. Applications for the new much-needed program will be reviewed starting April 1st, 2017.

Following a successful information night for the GED Program at the International School of Aruba last week, headmaster Dennis Willeford reports he already has about 75 candidates identified. That’s terrific news.

“We have been searching for alternatives for students who have gone through traditional education pathways, maybe even tried second chance education, but still come up short,” says the Minister of Education, “As you know our local Dutch system is not for everyone. So creating diversity, is the key for more successful graduations,” she adds.

As it turned out, the ISA approached the Ministry, with plans of offering GED, and consequently received the Ministry’s enthusiastic support for the project. “ We think this is a solid alternative; GED is recognized in many countries, including Aruba, and it creates a direct track for both higher education and improved employment opportunities,” the Minister concludes.

The ISA, with a campus in the neighborhood across the airport,  has been providing quality education in Aruba for over 85 years. It started in the early LAGO days and was designed to educate the ex-pat kids in the colony. The primary language of instruction has always been English. Nowadays, the ISA is affiliated with the International School System, ISS, a global network of learning institutions, and enjoys an established relationship with the Office of Overseas Schools – a branch of the US State Department.

Both ISA and ISS are excited to branch out into adult education through this partnership with the Ministry of Education in Aruba.

For many of Aruba’s adults, school ends with a MAVO certificate, which doesn’t meet enrollment requirements in any US or Canadian colleges.  The GED offers those interested in continuing their education a chance to earn high school equivalent credentials – that would usher them into junior colleges in the US and some Canadian programs.  This certification will also enhance options for employment if staying in Aruba, and facilitate the pursuit of better careers.  From technical trades to business, the options will be improved with a GED diploma, and English Proficiency, will also help open doors on the island.

The program entails a number of formal hours at school, twice weekly, over a full semester. A weekly LAB is offered with additional help in all subjects. You may study at your own pace, and then take the final exam. There is a small charge for the exam, the rest is available free of charge, paid for by the Ministry of Education.

Some parliamentary midgets fired criticism at the initiative, but it was politically motivated. They fussed at the fact that a private school will be receiving public funds for the new GED program. But in reality, ISA & GED are a perfect match, and many young adults who speak English at home, and encounter difficulties learning in the local Dutch system, will be helped with the new option.

It is in the best interest of the island to help more students graduate.