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Nov 29, 2005

Bzean author & students team up to promote reading

Story PictureExact figures for literacy rates in Belize are hard to come by, but experts agree that children today are reading far less than the generations before them. But one Belize City school is refusing to take that fact of life sitting down. Today, Central Christian School invited acclaimed Belizean author Zee Edgell to its campus, hoping her enthusiasm for writing would encourage students to pick up a book. News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports.

Narrator
?Truth be told, if Toycie were still alive, she would be accepting the first prize instead of Beka herself. This thought made her shake her head as she made her way home. There she met her Uncle Curo.?

Beka
?Uncle Curo, weh di go on??

Uncle Curo
?Nothing no deh di go awn gal, things di change.?

Beka
?Weh you mean, things di change fu the worse??

Uncle Curo
?No, things di change fu the betta, becaw we black people wah could vote and no only deh people weh own plantation, noh only the rich people them.?

Beka
?I almost forget, look ya Uncle Curo, I win it inna wah essay contest.?

Uncle Curo
?Whe that, wah metal??

Beka
?Yes sir. I gone inna wah essay contest. I neva wah go in, but Sister Gabriella push me in and I actually won??

Uncle Curo
?That good, that good.?

Granny Ivy
?Aye, them pickney, aye.?

Beka
?Hold yu heart Gran, hold yu heart.?

Granny Ivy
?You know what Beka, you neva mi ah win da contest yuh know, dah some a them Bakra or Pania mi wah win that contest, but things change fu true…aye.?

Today, acclaimed Belizean author Zee Edgell was treated to a unique rendition of her most famous novel, Beka Lamb, by the students of Central Christian School in Belize City.

Miss Eila
?Da you dat up deh Beka dahling??

Beka
?Yes ma?am.?

Miss Eila
?I hear you pass first term.?

Beka
?Yes ma?am.?

Granny Ivy
?And she win the contest too.?

Miss Eila
?Kip it up Beka, kip it up…oy.?

Faye Usher, Principal, Central Christian School
?We have a school where the children have a lot of reading problems and we wanted her to just be a part to let our children know the importance of reading. And from this presentation today, they really had a good time and to see a Belizean writer, someone that has this experience with reading and writing. For me, the most important part was Belizean and reading, it?s not only an international thing, Belizeans read, they write.?

Zee Edgell, Author
?Even if they have a first class degree or a PhD or something like that, if they are not able to write and read well, they are not going to go very far.?

Today Edgell?s main message to the students was the profound importance of the written word.

Zee Edgell
?The difficultly is that books are expensive, but if some mechanism could be found where parents could have books appropriate to the age of their children and be able to read to them every night?not only age appropriate books but any book that the parent enjoys, because if the parents enjoy the reading, the children will too. Unfortunately, a lot of the children that need this reading to in the nights and every time, the parents are at work and it?s very hard to find the time. So I think the schools will have to pick up the slack there.?

Faye Usher
?The CCET program that we are working with, it starts from our infant division and we know that if we catch our children reading and have them reading from infant one, infant two, we won?t have problems in the upper division classes.?

?We don?t have a lot of parental support, but we want our parents to really know the importance of reading and encourage their children to read. To the parents out there, who are encouraging their children, continue; but those who don?t have an input in what they are doing, we want them to encourage their children to read, show the importance of reading because it will affect them for a lifetime.?

Edgell is now a permanent resident of the United States, but she admits her heart will always be in Belize. The author of four published novels, all with strong ties to her homeland, Edgell says ?Beka? has opened doors for her around the globe. But, she?s keeping her fingers crossed that someday soon, someone else will write another great Belizean novel.

Zee Edgell
?It makes me feel very proud, you have no idea. I?m always astonished at the places it takes me, so I hope that people who have other growing up stories to tell from different aspects of the country will some day find the?because if we don?t write in the form of the novels and histories and all that, biographies and so on, what is going on now, it will be lost.?

Edgell’s fourth book is set to be released in 2006. Her visit to Central Christian School was made possible through the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Teacher Training. The author leaves the country tomorrow.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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