The Government of Aruba (GoA), the European Union (EU), the University of Aruba (UA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have conducted the groundbreaking ceremony for the rehabilitation of the Maria Covent building, located in Oranjestad (Aruba).

In the context of the cooperation of the European Union (EU) with the Government of Aruba (GoA), the Sustainable Island Solutions through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SISSTEM) project is funded, with a contribution of 7,300,00 EUR, by the European Union (EU).

The main objective of SISSTEM is to enable the UA to deliver tertiary level educational programs as well as a research offer with focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Given that the university infrastructure was considered insufficient to accommodate the programme, UNDP, as the implementing partner, is managing the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the Maria Convent building.

The establishment of the SISSTEM Faculty has been identified as an important element in advancing on multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Aruba, but also exemplarily as a small island state in the Caribbean. This intervention contributes to the strategic expansion of STEM capacities in Aruba and the Caribbean, it is relevant for the 2030 Agenda, as well as for developing capacities for the diversification of a sustainable economy.

Despite of the global logistical and pricing challenges, UNDP completed the architectural design and procurement process for the rehabilitation works contract, which has been awarded to Algemeen Bouwbedrijf Albo Aruba N.V. on 13 December 2022. The implementation of the rehabilitation works is expected to be completed within the first quarter of 2024. The renovation and refurbishment of the Maria Convent building will adequate multi-functional classrooms for between 25 to 50 students and office space for 25 staff.