Education in Belize is governed by the Education Act (Chapter 36 of the Laws of Belize).
Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators and also learners may also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy.
Belize is a country located on the eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 22,970 square kilometres (8,867 sq mi) and a population of 387,879 (2017). Its mainland is about 180 mi (290 km) long and 68 mi (110 km) wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year (2015) is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
The growth and transformation of Belizean education took place in a number of phases, each related to important changes within the political and economic history of the country.
During the initial phase, between 1816 and 1892, the church-state partnership became institutionalized. Religious initiative and control, extremely limited state intervention, and vigorous competition of religious denominations for the allegiance of the inhabitants characterized this phase.
The intensification of denominational rivalry, the benign neglect of the colonial state, and the growing influence of United States Jesuit missionaries in education characterized the second phase which lasted from 1893 to 1934. In 1934 the director of education in Jamaica made a thorough investigation of British Honduras's education system. Reforms were proposed to increase spending on the school system and improve the standard of education. Implementation of many of these reforms began in the late 1930s.
Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola.
British Honduras was a British Crown colony on the east coast of Central America, south of Mexico, from 1862 to 1964, then a self-governing colony, renamed Belize in June 1973, until September 1981, when it gained full independence as Belize. British Honduras was the last continental possession of the United Kingdom in the Americas.
During the next phase, from the late 1940s and early 1950s, the educational and social activities of the Jesuits influenced the rise of an anti-British, anticolonial nationalist movement. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jesuits led efforts to redress the elitist, urban-centered biases of postprimary education that perpetuated social inequality and the historical dominance of Belize City over its primarily rural hinterland. By the late 1950s, the Jesuits had emerged as the dominant influence at almost every level of formal education.
Belize City is the largest city in Belize and was once the capital of the former British Honduras. According to the 2010 census, Belize City has a population of 57,169 people in 16,162 households. It is at the mouth of the Haulover Creek, which is a tributary of the Belize River. The Belize River empties into the Caribbean Sea five miles from Belize City on the Philip Goldson Highway on the coast of the Caribbean. The city is the country's principal port and its financial and industrial hub. Cruise ships drop anchor outside the port and are tendered by local citizens. The city was almost entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on October 31. It was the capital of British Honduras until the government was moved to the new capital of Belmopan in 1970.
With the advent of a large degree of self-rule in 1964, the government began to assert its control over schooling. Formal control over education policy and planning passed from British-born clerics and colonial administrators to British-trained Belizeans. Actual education practice, however, changed very little; the religious denominations continued to determine the direction and pace of education expansion. United States influence in Belizean schools intensified, not only through the adoption of certain Jesuit practices for systemwide use, but also through the arrival of Peace Corps and other United States volunteer teachers and agencies such as CARE and the Michigan Partners.
The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government. Its official mission is to provide social and economic development abroad through technical assistance, while promoting mutual understanding between Americans and populations served. Peace Corps Volunteers are American citizens, typically with a college degree, who work abroad for a period of two years after three months of training. Volunteers work with governments, schools, non-profit organizations, non-government organizations, and entrepreneurs in education, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment. After 24 months of service, volunteers can request an extension of service.
CARE is a major international humanitarian agency delivering emergency relief and long-term international development projects. Founded in 1945, CARE is nonsectarian, impartial, and non-governmental. It is one of the largest and oldest humanitarian aid organizations focused on fighting global poverty. In 2016, CARE reported working in 94 countries, supporting 962 poverty-fighting projects and humanitarian aid projects, and reaching over 80 million people and 256 million people indirectly.It is non government organization.
As the demand for education outstripped the capacities of the churches—even the Jesuits—to provide it, interdenominational cooperation grew and the state assumed a more central role. By the 1970s, the Belizean government had assumed the leading role in establishing new schools, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels. The government conceived of education as an essential tool in the peaceful struggle for independence. But the expansion of educational opportunities outstripped the state's resources, leading to an intensified reliance on external aid. Since 1981, the United States has provided the bulk of this aid. This situation caused many Belizeans to fear the rise of a new form of imperialist control over the country.
Nowhere were fears of recolonization more realized than in higher education. In 1979 the ruling People's United Party (PUP) government established the Belize College of Arts, Science, and Technology (Belcast) with the intention of breaking Belize's dependence on the outside world for university education. The PUP envisioned Belcast as a government-run institution, with no participation from the church. Funding was secured from the European Economic Community for the construction of a campus in Belmopan.
The campus was never built because the PUP was swept out of office in a landslide victory by the rival United Democratic Party (UDP) in December 1984. The UDP revoked the Belcast ordinance and invited Ferris State College of Big Rapids, Michigan, to establish and manage a new institution, the University College of Belize (UCB). Control over the UCB program rested not with Belizeans, but with the administration of Ferris State College. The birth of UCB embodied Belizean nationalists' worst fears: The country lost sovereignty over an institution that symbolized Belize's first major effort to break from the country's colonial past in the education sector. The intense controversy arose again in 1991 when it was discovered that Ferris State College had failed to obtain proper accreditation for the UCB program, thus placing into question the value of the degrees UCB had granted since 1987. Following this controversy, the new PUP government revoked its agreement with Ferris State and assumed full control over the institution.
The Belizean school system is a loose aggregate of education subsystems. The system is based on British education and is broken into three levels: Primary education, Secondary education and Tertiary education. Belizean children begin their eight years of primary education with two years of "infant" classes, followed by six "standards." Secondary education is divided into four "forms." Sixth form is a two-year post-secondary course, originally intended to prepare students for the Cambridge Advanced or "A-Level" examinations. Since the early 1970s, sixth-form institutions have also bestowed Associate of Arts degrees sanctioned by the United States Association of Junior Colleges.
Other post-secondary institutions include the University of Belize, Galen University, Wesley Junior College, in addition to UCB. Belize contributes to and participates in the multinational University of the West Indies. The University of the West Indies maintains an Open Campus site in Belize City.
Management of the system varies according to level. In the latter half of the 1980s, religious denominations controlled the majority of primary schools. The government or private, community-based boards of governors administered more than 50 percent of the secondary institutions. The preponderance of government institutions at the secondary level is a relatively new development; as recently as 1980, the majority of secondary schools were under religious management. Still, denominational representatives retain considerable influence on the managing boards of private, ostensibly nondenominational, institutions.
Secondary schools differ according to curriculum and cultural orientation. Most private and denominational schools emphasize academic and commercial studies, although some also offer technical-vocational programs. In contrast, the government directly manages nine schools, all of which offer a curriculum oriented to technical-vocational subjects.
In cultural orientation, education practices, rituals, and valuative criteria spread to Belize's schools from Jesuit institutions in the United States. Jesuit influence even affects such traditional bastions of British pedagogy as the Anglican and Methodist secondary schools and the government-run Belize Technical College. Nearly 30 years of Peace Corps and other United States volunteer teachers have also influenced Belizean education culture. Technical-vocational education programs by the United States Agency for International Development promise to erode further British pedagogical legacies.
Education in Belize is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14 years for primary education. In 2001, 93.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school. The Education Act subjects parents to a fine of up to US$100 if their children of compulsory school age fail to attend school regularly. Even so, there is large number of school dropouts and children who are not receiving any education due to financial constraints.
Primary education is free, but related expenses, such as uniforms, books and annual school fees are a financial strain on poor families. Secondary schools and apprenticeship and vocational programs can only accommodate half of the children who complete primary school. In 2002 the gross primary enrollment rate was 122 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 99 percent. (Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect school attendance.) As of 1999, 81 percent of children enrolled in primary school were likely to reach grade 5. Results from the Child Activity Survey indicate that 12 percent of working children ages 5 to 14 years do not attend school.
While most tertiary schools in Belize have access to Internet and computer labs, much of the primary and secondary school system does without. Some prominent high schools and primary schools in more urban areas have access to computers and the Internet but have failed to integrate technology to deliver curricula.
There have been positive moves to change the present status. One is the Free Internet for Schools program by Belize Telemedia Limited which promises to offer free Internet connections to schools at speeds up to 256 kbit/s.
The Ministry of Education has embarked on a project to digitize course materials so technology mediums may be used to deliver the content. A pilot program has been implemented for six schools and is underway with grants from Rotary International and the IDB. Status of the project remains unclear given that more than a year has passed since the inception of the project.[ when? ]
Sacred Heart Junior College (SHJC) in San Ignacio, Cayo district of Belize started a project that attempts to get the basic requirement of having an Internet connection in every primary school and by having the schools establish a web presence via the free Google Sites for education. The project, Primary Wireless Web Labs, wishes to get schools to use more technology in the classroom for non-IT classes.
The head of the computer science program and the departments students volunteer their time to coordinate with agencies/organizations to get the free Internet connections, domain names, hosting, etc. setup. The students gain valuable experience in the setup of everything required and the schools get valuable Internet access and web presence. The team at SHJC further encourages the schools to access resources like the Khan Academy, educational YouTube videos, online teaching materials, etc. to get schools to use technology to make learning more fun and interactive. More information about this initiative is at www.primary.edu.bz.
|Age as of Dec 31||The U.S. and Canada (except Quebec)||Belize|
|5||Elementary: Kindergarten||Primary: Kindergarten|
|6||Elementary: Grade 1||Primary: Infant I|
|7||Elementary: Grade 2||Primary: Infant II|
|8||Elementary: Grade 3||Primary: Standard I|
|9||Elementary: Grade 4||Primary: Standard II|
|10||Elementary: Grade 5||Primary: Standard III|
|11||Elementary or Middle: Grade 6||Primary: Standard IV|
|12||Elementary, Middle or Jr High: Grade 7||Primary: Standard V|
|13||Elementary, Middle or Jr High: Grade 8||Primary: Standard VI/Primary School Examination (PSE)|
|14||Junior High or Secondary: Grade 9||Lower Secondary: 1st Form|
|15||Secondary: Grade 10||Lower Secondary: 2nd Form|
|16||Secondary: Grade 11||Upper Secondary: 3rd Form|
|17||Secondary: Grade 12||Upper Secondary: 4th Form. CXC Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examinations (CSEC)|
A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution who attends classes in a course to attain the appropriate level of mastery of a subject under the guidance of an instructor and who devotes time outside class to do whatever activities the instructor assigns that are necessary either for class preparation or to submit evidence of progress towards that mastery. In the broader sense, a student is anyone who applies themselves to the intensive intellectual engagement with some matter necessary to master it as part of some practical affair in which such mastery is basic or decisive.
Said Wilbert Musa is a Belizean lawyer and politician. He was the Prime Minister of Belize from 28 August 1998 to 8 February 2008.
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