“Workers will not work hard unless they believe there is quality in what they are asked to do.”
William Glasser, M.D.
During the last few weeks, the entire country of
witnessed with great concern the plight of hundreds/thousands of educators and
teachers whose pressing yet ignored working and workplace concerns had
finally reached a boiling point. These
professionals work very hard and tirelessly everyday to provide an education to
our young people; yet they remain unappreciated by many, especially by those
who control their very salaries, workplaces, and living conditions. BNTU (Belize National Teachers Union) and its
members and backers staged many public rallies and demonstrations countrywide
to showcase teachers’ concerns to the government and to the country. Extremely unfair and low teacher wages was
the overwhelming concern, but very large class sizes, and insufficient
continuing professional education for teachers were among other continuously
ignored concerns that were not financial.
After several BNTU public rallies, and meetings between union and
government officials, the Prime Minister and Minister of Education finally
ceded. In a press conference, the Prime
Minister (was forced to?) addressed the dismal plight of educators and
education in the country.
Resolution: a promise of a mere
4% raise in teachers’ salaries in the future.
However, did teachers win their fight?
Did their recent rallies and demonstrations help to resolve their
pressing concerns? Belize
As I stated in a previous article, in order to keep learning we must constantly and consistently keep feeding our genuine love and enthusiasm for Education and for learning. Enthusiasm!How long can/will it last? This is not something that we should merely do once every few years, perhaps through rallies and demonstrations, nor is it something that we can expect others to do for us. The alternative to actively and constantly improving our Education Systems, including their management and staff, is to do nothing and end up with failing schools that produce graduates who do not or cannot contribute to society. This is definitely NOT the alternative that the developing and not-so-recently Independent nation of
wants or deserves today. Belize
Recently, I noticed genuine concerns being aired on social media sites regarding the rapidly sinking (totally dismal) status of some high schools in
. It was noted that in each school no form of
discipline is present or used/administered daily. Worse even, developing one’s “god given
talents” is not a part of any of these schools’ goals, only repetitive and
blind academic pursuit each year.
According to the concern posted on Facebook, each of these sinking
schools has fallen into “chiastic structure”, miriness, and even
life-threatening chaos. In (ancient)
Literature “chiastic structure” refers to the literary use of repetitive
patterns or motifs to write/present the work, poem or book. (Wikipedia)
Likewise, schools literally fall apart when they are run with a total
lack of vision and goals, and with no structured administration and/or
classroom management. The repetitive
pattern in each sinking school can be seen in their dismal existence, repeated
day in and day out, with NO goals or vision and no structure whatsoever, i.e.
anything is acceptable as long as some form of (blind) academic achievement is
haphazardly pursued. This is my
interpretation of “chiastic structure” in several high schools and middle
schools in Belize .
Education in Belize: Next Steps points out definitively that the outdated and ineffective Colonial Systems of Education that the Government and Church in Belize insist on maintaining and following today, just as they did long before Independence in 1981, do not meet the nation’s pressing needs in today’s global and digital Age. Interestingly, before our country achieved
Independence, we used to have very productive vocational,
agricultural, and technical schools in that did not stress mere
academic pursuit, but intensely pursued the development of one’s “God given
talents”. Today, these schools no longer
exist. Key phrases: “used to … no
longer”. Why? Who, from his mighty and regal throne,
decided he could change the vision, goals, and objectives of these schools, or
others? Those vocational and technical
schools that existed before Belize Independence served well;
but now they no longer exist! It’s time
to immediately address this pressing need to provide non-academic/non-literary
training, and fill this gaping hole in our nation’s far-from-developed
I wonder if our leaders, in this global and digital age, realize how very important it is that we always have qualified “hands on” workers or laborers. Of course, now that we have universities in
many young adults today want to pursue a university education. That ambition is admirable. However, we will always need farmers,
carpenters, plumbers, architects, electricians, maintenance engineers,
automobile technicians and many other professionals who are not afraid to “get
their hands dirty” while working. Having
worked for many years as a Vocational Guidance Counselor, I know that not every
young student aspires to work in an office or with a computer, or anywhere that
requires “dress appropriately and professionally” everyday. Nevertheless, we should encourage and respect
each student’s choice(s) and also feed their enthusiasm for learning – even for
non-academic or literary pursuits. In so
doing, we can ensure that our cities and towns will not come to a total
standstill due to a lack of much-needed “hands on” workers.
Let’s not rely on outsiders and foreigners to accomplish the work necessary to build, enhance, and productively maintain/supply Belizean towns, villages, and cities from North to South, and East to West. Let us train and produce: farmers to grow our crops; construction professionals, including carpenters, to build our homes/house and office buildings; skilled technicians to ensure that all vehicles and all things motorized or electric always work; maintenance/sanitation engineers to ensure that we always live clean; workers to repair our roads and streets. Even for much-needed entertainment, let us keep opening paths for and producing creative artists from among us to entertain us all. Or, do the current learned Education policymakers (government and church) comfortably assume that “outsiders” will do such work, thus Belizean students only need aspire to get umpteen academic passes in CXC and the other foreign made-and-corrected examinations? If we want to provide quality education to our Youth, those in control of Belize’s Education systems need to Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.
These articles are not intended to be comprehensive or complete. They are written and contributed in an effort to provide a “starting point” for valuable discussion amongst educators, students, and the community. If we discuss and review students’ learning capabilities and the ways in which we currently try to educate them, then we can learn from our mistakes as well as success. Way to go, fellow educators!