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Aug 21, 2018

Tings Dread Da Gwen, Are Teachers Going Home?

It is not the first time that we have covered the administrative woes at Gwen Liz High School. Tonight, there are reports that a number of teachers are to be affected in what is being called a restructuring exercise due to a dwindling student enrollment. There are some three hundred and thirty-five students and as many as forty-four teachers. A meeting was held by the school’s board on Monday and recommendations have been made to trim the fat, so to speak. While the school won’t comment, News Five’s Isani Cayetano looked at the situation over at E.P. Yorke where there are far more students, but far less teachers and the school continues to do well. Here is that report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A new academic year for secondary schools across the country is set to commence on August twenty-seventh.  This week, teachers and students alike are all making final preparations ahead of next Monday.  The first day is always much anticipated, but instructors at Gwen Lizarraga High School dread the occasion.  A choice has not been made; however, a handful of teachers will be subjected to a so called restructuring exercise.  That is because the enrollment this year is arguably the lowest in the school’s history.  In contrast, its cross-town sibling Edward P. Yorke High School is gearing up for its largest intake of students.

 

McKinley King, Principal, E.P. Yorke

McKinley King

“Presently we have an enrolment of six hundred and thirty-seven students.  That is beyond what we normally accept at E.P. Yorke.  Our threshold is normally six hundred, but this year we have upped that number to thirty-seven additional students which brings us to a total of six hundred and thirty-seven students.  In first form, we have a total of a hundred and eighty-two students.  A hundred and one female students and eighty-one male students.”

 

There is an issue, a rather serious one, brewing at Gwen Liz.  With only three hundred and thirty-five pupils registered across all four forms, the teacher to student ratio is higher than E.P. Yorke’s whose population eclipses that of Gwen Liz by roughly two to one.  It simply means that there are more teachers employed at Gwen Liz than there are at E.P. Yorke, at twice the size of its student body.  The growth, says incoming principal McKinley King, is owing to academic standards and performance at the CXC level.

 

McKinley King

“We have done well throughout the years and I believe that this year we have also done well.  But apart from just the performance, we have a disciplinary system that helps this school to insure that the students do well at whatever level really, not just at CXC, but likewise performing well in their various classrooms.”

 

A juxtaposition of both government-funded institutions, renamed after outstanding Belizeans in February 1990, is perhaps the best way to illustrate the woes that Gwen Liz is presently facing.  By all accounts, the problems are not overnight issues that just sprung up on the administration.  Low enrollment, infighting between the faculty and management, as well as poor performance have all been eroding the school’s legacy.  On the other hand, E.P. Yorke has managed to solidify its reputation among the top high schools in Belize City, contrary to the notion that it is attended by a majority of north side residents.

 

McKinley King

“When you look at our student population and our demographics, we have forty percent of our students that actually come from the south side, the other forty is from the rural and twenty percent comes from the north side.  So we have a mixture of students here at E.P. Yorke.”

 

Both schools, funded by the Government of Belize, are allotted fiscal resources on an annual basis.  The wage bill for E.P. Yorke’s complement of teachers is approximately one point five million dollars.

 

McKinley King

“The allocation is pretty much the same you know, everything is based on the number of students enrollment.  With six hundred and thirty-seven students enrollment, I am certain that the financial benefit is definitely there for E.P. Yorke, over any other school that has less than six hundred and thirty-seven students.”

 

And that is what may very well be on the line at Gwen Liz.  With a dwindling population of students, the allotment faces serious cutbacks.  Although we attempted to speak with Acting Principal Luis Mortis and Board Chairman Delroy Fairweather, none were willing to speak with News Five on record, suffice to say that there have been no terminations at the high school.

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

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