Aruba is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Charter of the the Kingdom of The Netherlands grants autonomy to Aruba to develop its own internal laws in accordance with Kingdom rules and regulations, however international treaties and conventions are signed by the Netherlands on behalf of the island.
According to the Department of Education of Aruba, in addition to mainstream primary education, special education is also available. Special education at the primary level is divided into education for children with mild learning difficulties, children with severe learning difficulties and children with hearing impairments (including deaf children). The National Ordinance on primary and special education (2012) governs special education for children aged 6-12. At the secondary level, the island has a public school for special secondary education.
In terms of gender equality in education, according to UIS data, there is almost parity between males and females in gross enrolment ratio in primary and secondary education. However, females are two times more likely to attend higher education than men. In 2016, for example, the gross enrolment ratio of females in tertiary education was 20.7% while gross enrolment ratio of males was only 10.67%.
According to UNICEF’s Report on the Situation of Children and Adolescents in Aruba (2013), the country provides free primary and secondary education for everyone, including documented migrants. 97% of the population 15 years and older are literate. In addition, the country has advanced towards the elimination of gender gaps in education. Enrolment rates in high school and college are higher for women than for men.
Aruba has two official languages, Papiamento and Dutch. English and Spanish are also widely spoken. The Government tried to develop a curriculum in the early 2010s which aimed to introduce Papiamento into teaching. According to UNICEF, while only 6% of the population speak Dutch at home, the Dutch educational model prevails. With 68% of the population speaking Papiamento, there’s a need for the education system to adapt to local needs. In addition, 14% of the population speak Spanish and 7% speak English. The PRISMA project seeks to help non-Dutch-speaking students to familiarize themselves with Dutch language.
Aruba’s development has been strongly influenced by a long history of migration and immigration. According to UNICEF’s Report on the Situation of Children and Adolescents in Aruba published in 2013, the 2010 Population and Housing Census indicated that 34% of the population were foreign born. In the context of the Venezuelan crisis, Aruba has received a significant influx of migrants and refugees. The Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V) reports that 17,000 migrants and refugees from Venezuela have arrived to Aruba. The Situation Report for Aruba and Curaçao of March 2020 estimates that by the end of 2020, 44,500 refugees and migrants will arrive to Aruba and Curaçao. IOM and UNCHR are the two key organisations providing support to Venezuelans to access education services in the island.
The Ministry of Education of Aruba works to strengthen the education across the island. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Social Affairs and Culture included as part of its priorities for 2009-2013 the development of children and adolescents, disadvantaged populations and persons with special needs. Aruba has a very high expenditure on education. In 2016, the government expenditure on education as percentage of the total government expenditure was 21.37% according to UIS data.
According to UNICEF, the insufficient number of teachers, schools and financial assistance represent an obstacle for special needs education in Aruba.
The National Education Policy Aruba 2030 (PEN 2030) was presented by the Minister of Education, Science and Sustainable Development in 2019. It provides the strategic vision for education in Aruba for the next 11 years. The PEN 2030 sought to ensure equal access to quality education and to promote lifelong learning for everyone. It focuses on the development of individual learning needs taking into account the multilingual context of Aruba and to the alignment of the policy at the national level with international developments in education.