Saba is a small island with a surface area of 13 km2, which is one third of Schiermonnikoog.  The island is of volcanic origin and basically consists of one mountain, Mount Scenery (870 meter). In 1947, a concrete road was constructed linking the four villages: The Bottom, St. John’s, WIndwardside and Hell’s Gate.  As of that date, cars were imported.  Until 58 years ago, visitors could only come to Saba by boat and had to be carried on land in the harbor.

The roads on Saba are too steep to ride bicycles.  Students have been transported to school by school buses.  Accessibility of the island was greatly enhanced by the construction of an airstrip on a flat piece of land on the northern side in 1963. It became the shortest commercial runway on earth, making Saba accessible by STOL-airplane.

Apart from (diving) tourism, Saba has no own sources of income; it depends on subsidies mainly coming from the Netherlands. Saba has a rich tradition in fishery and agriculture; however, a limited number of people work in these sectors nowadays.

Current Situation

Saba has more than 2000 inhabitants. Saba University School of Medicine was founded in 1992 as an international alternative to U.S. and Canadian medical schools. Since its founding, more than 2500 students have earned their medical degree at Saba. Simultaneous to the expansion of the Saba University of School of Medicine the supermarkets became better stocked and housing rates increased by as much as 25%. Cost of living on Saba is 14% more expensive than on Bonaire.

On Saba the basic public facilities are offered.  A small hospital is located in the Bottom , as well as the police station, a nursing home, sports field, community center, daycare center and the administration building.  In 2010 a Center for Youth and Family was opened.  Families can go there for help with family matters.

The other villages each have their churches (Wesleyan Holiness, Seventh Day Adventist, Anglican and Jehovah’s Witness) and community centers.  The population of Saba is mainly Roman-Catholic; all villages have their own R-C church with burial grounds.  Exceptional in the Dutch Kingdom, on Saba one can be buried in the garden of their homes.

In 2010, an office was open for the civil servants who represent specific departments and implement services on behalf of the Dutch government: the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN).

Over 40 foundations are managed by volunteers as well as professionals, mostly executing a private initiative subsidized by fund raisers, private donations, Samenwerkende Fondsen or DCNA.

Dutch is the official language on Saba.  However, it isn’t spoken in the homes or on the street and therefore qualifies as a foreign language rather than a second language.  As of 1993 the language of instruction in all school is English. Dutch is scheduled in the curriculum as a mandatory subject as of group 1 primary education.

The Laura Linzey Daycare Center currently has 39 children enrolled.  The center has 9 assistant caregivers and a director who is a qualified caregiver and certified HighScope trainer.  Since 2007 the HighScope curriculum has been implemented. 

The schools for primary and secondary education are located in St. John’s.  The SHS had 178 students and the SCS has 147 for the past school year.  The EC2 is located by the gym in a functional and open office.  It has work space for 4 people, a meeting room big enough for board meetings and a small room that is in use for testing and counseling purposes. 

The SKJ program is combined in the organization for adult education and social workplace.  A variety of modules is being offered in the fields of hospilatiry, care, ICT, construction and agriculture.

The teams of SHS and SCS are multicultural with its members coming from ten different countries/islands.  As a result of differences in background and culture, pedagogical approaches of the individual teachers vary.  This gives more importance to internal school policies and a common didactical vision.  Most teachers haven’t taught students with learning and behavior issues before being employed on Saba.