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Nov 14, 2017

Book Celebrates Teaching Pioneers from Toledo

Much of the history of Belizean education, especially outside of Belize City, has been shouldered by the Garifuna population. These men and women braved often treacherous conditions in the deepest parts of the country to bring education to our youngest in the population. Two of the early pioneers were couple Andres Patricio Enriquez and Jane Villafranco Enriquez, who traveled across the country in lengthy careers spanning decades. Half a century later, their first grandson Jeremy “Jerry” Enriquez has penned, based on their recollections, an autobiography tracing not only their history, but that of Belize and its education sector, as Aaron Humes reports.

 

Jerry Enriquez

Jerry Enriquez, Author, “To Educate A Nation”

“It was their words that was written in an exercise book over a period of time, looking at the experiences they had teaching through all parts of the country.”

 

Reporter

“And how was that experience for you – to transcribe that, to read that, to go on the journey they went on?”

 

Jerry Enriquez

“It was an emotional journey for me also to look at the tremendous sacrifices and hardships they had been through – in those early days of Belize, when there was no infrastructure for example, they had to walk twenty-five miles through the forest to reach San Antonio – forest and swamp and climb hills. That was a difficult time to start schools in the colony, … Out: 1:13 …at that time.”

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Historians Dr. Joseph Palacio and Roy Cayetano and traditional healer Lucia Ellis are all themselves former or current teachers and descended from teaching dynasties. Theirs are the experiences of many Garifuna families similar to Enriquez’s grandparents.

 

Joseph Palacio

Dr. Joseph Palacio, Historian

“Andres Patricio Enriquez was such a candidate. Born in Punta Gorda in 1886, he had done well in the town school, became a pupil teacher and moved on to become head teacher; furthermore, his uncle had been a head teacher. Andres’ qualifications and teaching experience did not prepare him for the extreme hardship he had to undergo, trudging the distance of twenty-five miles to San Antonio from Punta Gorda; it did not prepare him for the culture shock of becoming accustomed to the diet and living conditions of the Maya; most of all, it did not prepare him for the steps of adjustment he had to undergo to be able to live and work within his host community.”

 

Roy Cayetano

Roy Cayetano, Former Teacher

“I must say that personally, I am fascinated with and indeed smitten by Jane Villafranco Enriquez, and her evolution from what seemed to be a confused teenage bride, to a self-assured healer, and yes, leader, complementing the vocation of her husband the teacher, as he provided selfless service to the nation. Like her husband, and the teachers of the day, she would not have had the benefit of formal education beyond Standard Six. This means that she, like them, was self-educated, building on the little she received, and she did what very few did – namely, keep a journal to chronicle her incredible life experience.”

 

Lucia Ellis

Lucia Ellis, Traditional Healer

“This story, written by Jerry, “To Educate a Nation: The Autobiography of Andres P. and Jane V. Enriquez”, is their story as well. I am so thankful for his enthusiasm, having followed its evolution over the years – I remember having a conversation, “I’m going to write this book,” and I’ve been so excited, seeing some photographs from time to time. Thankfully, Jerry has joined the ranks of men and women who are deeply committed to telling a fuller, richer and more truthful story about our pioneers and the impact they have had on our world, particularly our education system and our socialization. It is unusual also for the perspective of the woman to be included in the account and for that we are very appreciative.”

 

According to Enriquez, the book is also an important contributor to reducing the Belize City-centric perspective of history.

 

Jerry Enriquez

“In our discourse, in Belize’s history, we tend to have a Belize City-centric approach to history. But there are so many things that happen in other parts of the country that our students need to be aware of and it lends to further research into other aspects of our history.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

The book is on sale in Belize City at Angelus Press, Brodies, Image Factory, and A and R; Dakers Stationery and Books in Belmopan; Cayeboard in Caye Caulker; Floyd Johnson store in Punta Gorda and Oscar Ramirez store in Dangriga, and Amazon and other online bookstores, retailing for thirty-five dollars.

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