month for celebrations! Many festivities
lead up to Sept 10th to commemorate the “ Belize Battle
of St. George’s Caye”, a day that has been
celebrated each year, and long before the country achieved self-governing
status in the mid 1960’s and
in 1981. Each September includes many
talent competitions throughout Independence ,
then a festive Carnaval, then the nationwide celebrated Independence Day on
Sept. 21st to top a full month of festivities. In our many September celebrations throughout
the country, we celebrate many forms of “breaking free”, whether from Colonial
masters or from whatever may have once held us back -- as a country and as a
people. We even broke free from our
former name, British Honduras, and have proudly made ourselves known throughout
the entire world as: Belize . Certainly, we have every right to celebrate
all the changes and advancements in Belize today. Belize
It is unfortunate, though, that Belize insists on remaining very disadvantaged as a young developing country, because since gaining Independence we adamantly refuse to break free from adhering to former/existing Colonial (Commonwealth) systems of Education throughout the country. Yet, our Education policymakers (government and church) seem unable to understand why a majority of young Primary school students in
score so very lowly on
annual Proficiency examinations, i.e. PSE, each year. Until we break free of antiquated Colonial
systems of Education we cannot adequately provide our Youth with survival
skills to live in today’s new global and digital world! What, pray tell, are we waiting for to WANT
to break free of old systems of Education, and set our very own Belizean 21st
Century standards? Money is certainly
not an excuse because in Belize
hundreds of millions of dollars are made and change hands each year. Yet, Education still is not top priority
among the many new government, church, and business projects each year. (Am I the only educator who questions
this?) Moreover, there are many
talented and professional (young) people living and working in Belize
today! The country now boasts more than
one university, and each one produces highly proficient and professional
graduates in ever-increasing numbers each year.
Yet, the majority of our Primary/Elementary school children are not reaching
where they should be, literary wise, compared with the rest of the world. Why?
It simply cannot be that all our young students are lazy! Who, then, is? (Learned Helplessness) Belize
As an Independent nation today,
offers its young people more occupational, career, and educational options than
at any other time before. However, along
with all the new opportunities available today, there exist far more problems
in our society than we have ever seen before: ever-increasing daily crime,
violence, drug abuse and peddling to all ages, poverty and unemployment, and an
overall sense of hopelessness from thousands of people throughout the
country. Many of us struggle, day in and
day out, to survive ever-increasing “hard times”. Yet, during these very difficult times, the
rich get richer, a middle class borders extinction, and life keeps getting
harder and harder for the growing number of poor people with each new day. As we press on through these seemingly
insurmountable and Dickensian times, how are we helping our young people to
truly “prepare” for life in the next 10 years?
Trying to educate them by using someone else’s standards simply is not
good enough! Neither can it show them how
to lead meaningful and satisfying lives while they try to learn each day in
As of today, what public actions are being taken to try to lower
’s extremely high
unemployment rate (especially among Secondary and Tertiary educated citizens) and widespread poverty? How are we
trying to stop gangs from openly and violently taking anything and everything
they choose from hard-working Belizeans, many violent murders, and increasing closures of what once were successful business
establishments? We could address it all
by first positively reforming our Education systems throughout the
entire country! It seems though, that we
have all inexplicably chosen to accept our current pitiful and miserable, at
times even violent, situations as being our uncontrollable destiny. So, as of this September, what better and
more improved Education is now available to our children that we can celebrate? Belize
Old and new schools, whether in
or not, are not just buildings and institutions that provide many
teachers and professional educators with jobs.
Schools provide and promote efficient Education for students, and
prepare them to live and work in today’s world!
Better-prepared graduates and a better Belizean workforce also translate
into a more robust Belizean economy.
Yet, an improved 21st Century Education just is not top-priority in Belize today,
nor has it become fully non-negotiable for everyone.
It certainly is not surprising, then, that several private (and
expensive) and successful schools have emerged in Belize during the last 5 or 10 years. Basically, private schools will always be
accountable to parents who can afford to pay expensive monthly tuition, to no one else. To whom, then, are public schools accountable
today in Belize ?
As a Belizean, I am quite serious when I say/write that our number one goal should be to provide a better Education to our children; it must be better than what we have provided since before we became Independent as a country. However, any reform whatsoever in our present Education systems requires input from ALL stakeholders: parents, teachers, business community, government, church, and the entire nation. Most importantly, we must all be serious about wanting to improve our students’ performance and educational outcomes. I look forward to having so much more to celebrate next September. Congratulations Belize!