Anushka * came to the Netherlands from Curaçao two years ago to study social work and services. She did not pass an exam in the first block. She had to study at home alone and had no idea how to go about it. It was difficult for her to get in touch with fellow students. She found the Dutch language very difficult. Because she learned Dutch on Curaçao but mainly spoke Papiamento at home. As a Dutch student, she should have a good command of the language. She also found the Dutch difficult in the letters of the church. And she found out too late that as a Caribbean student she was exempt from Dutch health insurance. Therefore she is not entitled to sick pay.
My research “Headaches of Caribbean Students” shows that many Caribbean students like Anushka encounter these problems before, during and after studying in the Netherlands. Things often go wrong at home while preparing to study in the Netherlands. Not being given enough information, they are not sure what to expect from their studies and from Dutch society. They feel alone and have no family or friends to turn to here. They often need additional guidance, but they usually don’t get it.
Too little attention is paid to these problems of Caribbean students. As the national ombudsman, I therefore urge all governments in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to work together to ensure that Caribbean students are well prepared for studying in the Netherlands. And to make sure they get the right guidance during and after their studies.
Anushka had a hard time in the first months of her studies in the Netherlands. Fortunately, thanks to the help of her teachers and classmates, she is fine now. She hopes to finish her studies in two years. And find a good job with your diploma. And that’s what all Caribbean students deserve. As the national ombudsman, I will continue to work on this with the ombudsmen of Curaçao and St. Maarten.
* Fictional name
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