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May 23, 2018

Bringing “Street Law” to the Youth

As Belizeans, we all play an important role in the framework of education and the development of our young people and adult learners. That’s the mission of a pilot group of four high schools from the south and west. Today, a Street Law Belize Introductory Consultation Forum was held in Cayo which seeks to empower Belizeans to understand the basic rights and how to interpret the laws of Belize. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Today at the Cayo Center for Employment Training Conference Room in San Ignacio, the administration and staff of Saint Ignatius and Mopan Technical High Schools, as well as Delille Academy and Independence High School presented a proposal to their Boards of Directors and the Ministry of Education to introduce a street law curriculum at their respective institutions.

 

Jeniene Neal

Jeniene Neal, Principal, St. Ignatius High School

“Basically legal literacy; ensuring that you understand basic law in everything that you do—whether it is from the time you wake up in the morning, whether it is buying something and getting a receipt, whether it is getting into a contract as a business person and things of that sort. It’s a collaboration and a partnership between the west and the south so indeed it was not something that I could say was easy to start off. But getting the schools on board and with the permission from their board members was a bit more easier because of the concept; the core concept of street law and trying to see how we can better educate our adult learners and our students as well.”

 

The initiative will be piloted in the above-mentioned schools in January 2019 before, with the assistance of the Ministry of Education, it will be expanded to schools across the country. The idea is to empower young people and adult learners in our society while embracing challenges, change, and advancement. It is essential for students to be knowledgeable about issues such as those relating to human rights, constitutional rights, and labour laws. Executive Director of Street Law Caribbean Limited, Doctor Christopher Malcolm says that for development to occur, everyone has to better understand the law.

 

Christopher Malcolm

Dr. Christopher Malcolm, Executive Director, Street Law Caribbean Limited

“Street law is a simple concept of taking the law as it is; trying to get it to the bare fundamentals, as we say demystify it and going to the average person on the street in the communities, in the churches…wherever you find them to give them to give them a better understanding of the law and to help them to understand it and to learn how it affects them in a daily way. And for them to learn that they need to rely more on it. It’s Street Law so the whole idea is that we are taking law to the streets; we are taking it out of the cathedral, the universities and higher places of learning. We are taking it to a part where we say it is not elitist; it is for the common man. It was made for the good of everybody—the good the bad, the ugly and the indifferent. And it is for us to ensure that everybody has access to it because as I mentioned earlier that ignorance of the law is no excuse. So we have an obligation to make sure that everybody is as exposed to the law and as knowledgeable in it as is possible so they can make better decisions by reference to the law.”

 

The hope is that students will be able to identify positive and negative actions for change to develop themselves, the place they work, and the educational institution they attend. A training the trainers’ component will be rolled out in late August.

 

Dr. Christopher Malcolm

“That will include teachers and other persons and having entered into the training of trainers program which is to teach them the interactive methods of how we use role plays, skits and those sort of things, debates to bring out street law, then over the intervening period—between August and let’s say January—we will develop and clean up some modules that we hope to be delivered to students starting in January 2019.”

 

Jeniene Neal

“You have willing teachers to start this initiative, let’s roll it out in January 2019 and it came about with discussion from four of us principals to say, we need the train the trainers for one week, two weeks in August. We get our modules together, we get our lesson plans together, the teaching strategies together for us to be able to roll it out in January and indeed it will be included in our curriculum.”

 

Dr. Christopher Malcolm

“And once we get it right in that pilot phase, the hope is that with buy in and support from the ministry and the government, you can have a much broader roll out of the program by academic year 2019-2020. And in addition to that of course, even though we are starting with the high schools, we intend to start working with the primary schools as well and the community, churches and other initiatives because the idea is to make the law a living sacrament.”

 

Neal says that the Ministry of Education is fully supportive of the Street Law initiative. Duane Moody for News Five.

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