Aruba Celebrates the Grand Opening of the Renovated Maria Convent Building, a Hub for STEM Education

May 21, 2024

Aruba Celebrates the Grand Opening of the Renovated Maria Convent Building, a Hub for STEM Education

ORANJESTAD, Aruba – [May 21, 2024] – The Government of Aruba (GoA), the University of Aruba (UA), the European Union (EU), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are proud to announce the grand opening of the rehabilitated Maria Convent building on Monday, May 20th, 2024. This historic occasion marks the culmination of a collaborative effort to create a vibrant center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in Aruba.

The €7.3 million project, funded by the European Union, transformed the 2,000-square-meter Maria Convent building into a state-of-the-art educational facility. The renovated building now features four dedicated classrooms, two server rooms, a well-equipped library, a stunning aula (auditorium), five dedicated study rooms, office space for 30 staff members, and a computer lab outfitted with ICT equipment for 40 students.

H.E. Mrs. Evelyn Wever-Croes, Prime Minister of Aruba, expressed her gratitude for the completion of the project and what it means for Aruba; "I am ever grateful for the possibility of enhancing our education level. Aruba, as a Small Island State embraces the collaboration between the European Union, the University of Aruba KU Leuven, and the UNDP and the introduction of the SISSTEM faculty." 

H.E. Rene van Nes, EU Ambassador stated, "The beautiful renovation of the Maria Convent makes me proud in many ways. It is wonderful to see this cultural heritage site returned to its old glory. It is great that old Aruban architecture meets modern Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, paving the way for a future anchored in the past. I am in particular happy that the EU has contributed to giving young Arubans now the opportunity to receive a highly relevant quality education at home, here on the beautiful island of Aruba."

Mr. Ugo Blanco, UNDP Resident Representative, offered his perspective on the project's impact, stating, "This state-of-the-art STEM facility will empower future generations to tackle the pressing challenges of our time, from renewable energy to climate change adaptation. The success of this project highlights the power of collaboration and the shared commitment of the Government of Aruba, the University of Aruba, the European Union, and the UNDP to foster innovation and environmental responsibility. We are proud to support initiatives that not only preserve cultural heritage but also pave the way for a brighter, more sustainable future." 

The Maria Convent renovation prioritized sustainability by incorporating features that minimize environmental impact.  This includes a smart climate control system that optimizes energy efficiency, enhanced roof insulation to reduce energy consumption, smart lighting systems for further energy savings, and a water reuse system for irrigation that promotes water conservation. The building serves as the new home for the UA's SISSTEM program, dedicated to fostering a strong foundation in STEM fields. This investment in STEM education is crucial for Aruba's continued development as SISSTEM graduates will be equipped to tackle critical challenges such as sustainability, renewable energy, and climate change adaptation. This, in turn, strengthens Aruba's position as a leader in innovation and environmental responsibility within the Caribbean region.

The success of the Maria Convent rehabilitation project is a testament to the collaborative efforts of the GoA, particularly the Ministry and Department of Economic Affairs, the University of Aruba, the Monuments Bureau, the EU as the project donor, and the UNDP team on the ground. This collaborative spirit exemplifies the importance of partnerships in achieving sustainable development goals, and the opening ceremony underscores the value of continued support and investment in projects that contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage, sustainable development, and social inclusion in Aruba and the wider region. The Maria Convent building stands as an example of progress, poised to nurture generations of future Aruban leaders in STEM fields.