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Aug 17, 2017

Ministry of Education Expands Response on Medical Schools

A month or so ago, the president of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action and his counterpart in the Poor People’s Organization for a Healthy and Righteous Society, visited the campus gates of the now-Columbus Central University School of Medicine. It is summer break and there was nobody there, other than a caretaker. But that did not stop Geovannie Brackett and Raymond Rivers from hitting out at alleged fakes and fronts for the likes of human trafficking and money laundering. Accusations without evidence? None was produced, but the Ministry of Education has hit back. Aaron Humes has the response from Minister Patrick Faber.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

Back in July news media visited the Airport Road site of what is now Columbus Central University School of Medicine, which shares a telephone number with Washington University of Health Sciences based in Ambergris Caye. The charge according to activists Geovannie Brackett and Raymond Rivers is that unlike their legitimate counterparts, the former American Global University School has never shown signs of activity.


Geovannie Brackett

Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA [File: July 18th, 2017]

“When you research the directory for medical schools, they have changed their name to Columbus [Central] University – but when you look at the contact number, it is a contact number, even though they are located here on the Airport Road, it is a contact number for the medical up in San Pedro – I think it is Washington University. Now, the concern that “Faada” (Philip Henry) brought up back then, was that there is a legitimate medical school just up north, which is CAHSU-Central American Health Sciences University, that if you go there right now, you can actually find over a hundred students, a hundred and fifty students who are actively being there; Raymond Rivers and I have done that investigation, but when it comes to these medical schools, there was one in Belmopan – when we went back then, as a journalist when I researched that, it was a ghost town like you’ve seen right here.”


Shortly after, Education Minister Patrick Faber hit back in a personal comment to another media house calling Brackett’s and Rivers’ organizations ‘paid mercenaries,’ a charge from which he did not back down when we questioned him on Wednesday. But as he also promised, Faber spoke to the reason why Columbus changed its name, and how Columbus and Washington are policed by his ministry.


Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“The school that is in question had a name change because of difficulty, they asked us to keep the charter because of course their needed to amend the continuity when they are marketing they need to be able to say we have been operating for all of these years before, we are not a just come fly by night school, and that is why they kept that charter, and they opened another school, the one that is San Pedro, which we have inspected time and time again to see that it is working properly. At the time when the proprietors of the one on the airport road came, they made us aware that they are going to seek clients. We have been checking on them, the proprietors have indicated in fact that they are looking to open that facility which they have charter for to students in the upcoming year in January, they have long indicated that, that is not a result of any kind of stirring on the part of COLA or PPOHRS.”


In calling for the Ministry to do the kind of enforcement Faber spoke about, Brackett attempted to tie the existence of schools like Columbus to the ongoing immigration inquiries. To those concerns, Faber responded that no such will be tolerated under his watch.


Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber

“People can be assured that under my watch, certainly, if it is that we were engaging everybody that wants to open a medical school and come here and offer money for that, we would have had twenty, thirty, forty and fifty because there is no limit on what can be done. And furthermore – you see, this is why I agreed to do a more extensive thing. Under the People’s United Party, when they issued a charter, there was no demand for accountability and accreditation from these institutions. Now, when a charter is issued under our watch, and as I’ve said there’ve not been many, as a part of receiving that charter those schools are made aware that they must start the process of accreditation. There is a regional entity that is responsible for accreditation, called the CAM-HP, and both of those schools that are operating now, but also the charter that exists with the principals for the school on the Airport Road have started that process; the Ministry has insisted that we get documentation that shows you are moving toward accrediting your school. So it’s not only Belize that says you’re doing what it takes to offer good quality education – and this is medical education, these people are going to be doctors, so we must ensure that there is that kind of quality.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


Faber also noted that top private university, Galen University, operates under a similar charter, originally intended for teaching veterinary science. The total number of charters granted under his term as Minister of Education is less or about the same, he said, as those granted under the People’s United Party.

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