I read the 4th draft of the TAC report on the economy of Curacao. I received it from a friend. I was never involved with the process, although I asked several stakeholders on different occasions if I can get involved. I never received a response. Many others were also not invited.
This report has been in the making over a year now. First I was disappointed after I scanned the report of 254 pages, but then I realized that this is only a reflection of the philosophy of stakeholders in the economy of Curacao. I scanned the report looking for keywords. The words “knowledge economy” are only mentioned once in the context of the ICT promoting foundation, Stimul-IT. On the other hand, the words “creative economy”, the reports uses “cultural sector”, are mentioned. The concept is further elaborated, and there is a presentation of this sector. The “ICT” is not mentioned as a sector even though Curacao is building the biggest data center in the region. ICT is mentioned among others when innovation and clusters are mentioned, especially in connection with the financial sector. “Education” is mentioned in the context of the mismatch with the labor market: “The education system is not responsive to the needs of the Island in general and of employers in particular.” I quote the report when it comes to improving the education:
Renovate the education system, so as to ensure that
All children are literate and sensitized to culture
All teenagers possess good analytical capacities and professional skills
All teenagers are trained to be diligent
All teenagers are sensitized to business culture and business administration
All teenagers develop strong emotional feelings for the art and culture of their country, the Caribbean and Latin American countries, as part of their heritage.
A variety of professional specialisations (technical, art, intellectual, etc) is offered. There is a need to make the education system more responsive to the needs of the Island.
Drop out rate in schools is minimal,
All teenagers are fully proficient in at least three official languages, i.e., English, Dutch and Spanish, and
Families are sensitized on the importance of education for their children.”
The sensitization to the culture and
The proficiency in languages is prominent, but I am convinced that the key is to prepare learners to master ICT. The TAC report mentions the university at least two times. It states that the Airport City will require the involvement of a technical university. A the other reference is to the university in Jamaica. Transnational education as a potential economic sector is not even mentioned.
Conclusion: This is a 2.0 economic plan for Curacao. It lacks the emphasis on knowledge, education and ICT, to take Curacao to the next level, 3.0. At this stage, there is still no implementation plan nor structure. These are the most essential elements to make the plan succeed. Because, Curacao is a poor decision maker and implementor.
This illustrates my point made in the opening remarks. People are excluded from making a contribution. I never actually thought it through, why? I think this is a residue of Curacao 1.0, the slave society: People are judge based on whom they are and not based on what they know and contribute. This has created an anti-intellectual climate. In that sense, the TAC report is on the dot: Curacao can not be e knowledge economy. Keep the party going, let us go for the “cultural sector”