My time at ITC transformed me

Become a high-skilled geospatial professional

ITC helped me to get where I am today.

Text: Michaela Nesvarova | Photos: Daryll Matthew

‘ITC is where I learnt to appreciate the diversity among people. It opened up my eyes and helped me to get where I am today,’ says Daryll Matthew, ITC alumnus and the current Minister of Education and Sports in Antigua and Barbuda.

How does a graduate of Geo-Information Management become a politician in his home country in the Caribbean? ‘It has been an interesting journey,’ answers Matthew, who studied at ITC in years 1999-2000. ‘People ask me why I wanted to study at this tiny institution in this tiny region of the Netherlands. I wanted to experience something totally different. I wanted to see the world and learn to live on my own. And it was a great experience. ITC was one of the highlights of my life.’

‘During my time in Enschede, I completely immersed myself in the local community,’ Daryll Matthew tells his story. ‘I joined the local basketball club and met a lot of fantastic people from all over the world. When I returned to Antigua and Barbuda after graduation, I found out that ITC had completely transformed my view of the world,’ he says. As Matthew puts it, he learnt many important lessons during his time at ITC. Some of which directly influence his life and work to this day. ‘Firstly, my sense of time changed. Dutch people are very precise – ten o’clock means ten o’clock. People in the Caribbean are more relaxed in that sense. Ten o’clock can mean ten o’clock, or quarter past ten or ten thirty. I quickly realized I didn’t want to go back to that. Meetings always start on time in my office and people know that by now.’

Reshaping education

Punctuality is certainly not the only thing the alumnus brought home with him. The realizations he acquired in Twente are now shaping the educational system of his entire country. ‘At ITC I saw that there isn’t one way of teaching and learning. Everyone learns in a different way,’ says Matthew. ‘Teachers at ITC knew that it’s not ‘one size fits all’, because their classrooms were highly international and diverse. There were people from Europe, Africa, Asia, Caribbean… and they all had different backgrounds and needs. This is something I try to bring to education in Antigua and Barbuda. We might be a relatively homogenous nation, but even here every person learns differently – due to social background, due to gender, due to their cultural heritage and so on.’

Being able to study abroad is something the Minister wants every young person to experience. ‘In the Netherlands, I learnt that we all tend to view the world through our own lens, but the world is huge. Antigua and Barbuda is only a microcosm. There are so many other experiences and points of view out there. People who don’t travel, however, tend to see the world with a very narrow lens. That’s why we want to make sure that our students travel abroad for educational purposes on governmental scholarship. I think that is an amazing feet for such a small country.’


‘Now back to your question: how did I end up in politics?’ the Minister guides the conversation. ‘I have always been very active in community service. For example, through the Rotary Club of Antigua, a community-based organisation that provides humanitarian services.’ In 2011, Matthew went to the UK to get a Master’s in Business Administration. During that time, he became friends with the current prime minister through playing football. A few years later, as faith would have it, the political candidate for the Labour Party in Antigua and Barbuda had health problems and had to step out. ‘And the prime minister approached me,’ says the alumnus.

Matthew refused to join the political arena at first, but the prime minister reached out again. ‘He made a statement that had a profound effect on me. He told me: you had a lot of opportunities to travel and study abroad thanks to your country. Now you have an obligation to repay your country through your service. Based on that, I decided to do this. In the elections I won 64% of the votes in my constituency – and became an elected member of the parliament.’


‘Last two years have been really difficult for education due to COVID-19,’ says the Minister of Education and Sports. ‘Firstly, children couldn’t go to school, but giving  a laptop to a child doesn’t solve the problem alone. You need to train the teachers on how to give online education first. And so we did. Another challenge was getting enough laptops and arranging access to internet in some remote communities. However, the biggest challenge was vaccinations. Not all people were willing to get vaccinated and they especially weren’t willing to get their children vaccinated. There were so many conspiracy theories and nonsense news circling around. But as the government, we recognized that we had an obligation to protect lives. We ordered mandatory vaccination for all public servants and for all eligible children over twelve years old. This resulted in huge protests. People were shouting and protesting outside my door. But we did it and we managed to reach herd immunity.’

‘How does all of this relate to my time at ITC? That was where I learnt to be resilient,’ stresses Daryll Matthew. ‘My time at ITC transformed me. ITC is an excellent institution. It allows you to develop relationships with people from all corners of the planet and teaches you that we are all human beings that can learn a lot from each other. It shapes your life forever.’