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Feb 20, 2019

Government Says It’s Concerned about Wellbeing of Students in Light of Scandal

Patrick Faber

As it concerns the church-state system of education, Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber has also weighed in to say that while there are merely allegations being made against Father Smalls; government is concerned for the safety of children who interact with priests in the school and church settings.

 

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“I believe that those issues are really matters that the church needs to handle but insofar as many of the church leaders are involved as well in education, we have to be concerned.  As far as I’m understanding these are allegations against the Reverend Oliver Smalls and I believe the Roman Catholic Bishop made the right move in terms of asking him to withdraw himself from service at this time.  I think that that was important until we’re able to make certain that our children are not exposed to any kind of danger.  We have to err on the side of caution in these instances.  But that is one situation, of course on a daily basis there may be situations that put our children in jeopardy and we have to be concerned as the Ministry of Education and the wider government to ensure that our children are in safe environments, so the ministry is always very concerned and we keep a watchful eye on these situations.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In a situation such as this it would seem as though there was merely a relocation from Richmond‘s diocese to the Belmopan/Belize City Diocese in Belize City but there doesn‘t seem to be, you‘ll correct me if I‘m wrong, much scrutiny that took place to determine who these persons are that are coming into our schools to administer, either from a religious point of view or from an academic point of view.”

 

Patrick Faber

“Well, you will understand that Reverend Smalls has been operating in Belize for quite some years and many of our structures that have been put in place in terms of who will engage with our children are more recent systems that we‘ve put in place.  For instance, everybody now who interacts, you know sometimes we have these church volunteer groups or we have student teachers coming from universities abroad to operate in our schools, there is a checking mechanism.  We have to ensure that those persons get some kind of temporary license which is a process and we do check these things.  But when it comes to the church especially, I believe that it‘s a new area for us and in fact we may now need to start looking at how we can ensure that when they interact, because you‘re right, they‘re not teachers but in some respects the students are taken to church services.  It is through their schools that they get confirmed.”

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