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Mar 30, 1998

Principals discuss new primary school curriculum

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A new approach to Primary School education in Belize is about to be set in motion. The Ministry of Education has given the green light for a new curriculum to be used in teaching, not only the usual reading, writing and arithmetic; but also other subjects that will better prepare students for the world outside of the primary school classroom. Last week, a number of principals and education officials gathered in Belize City to familiarize themselves with the new curriculum. And News Five’s Jacqueline Woods dropped in on one of their sessions.

The new primary school curriculum, which is schedule to come on stream next January, is described as being comprehensive in scope and one which will promote the full potential of a child’s development.

EllaJean Gillett, Director, Education Development Centre

“The existing curriculum addresses four areas of Language, Maths, Science and Social Studies. This new curriculum, we are looking at, it’s a more comprehensive. It covers areas like the expressive arts, which includes music and drama. The other areas like, P.E., where other schools does it now and then, if they feel like at certain levels. It also includes technology and Spanish. Spanish will be taught from the infant levels right through. Given our whole geopolitical location, we felt that it was important that our children acquire those skills.”

Although the official introduction of these new skills to the primary school system, is still several months away, the pilot program is schedule to start in September.

EllaJean Gillett

“Simple reason: change is not easy; there is always some resistance to change. Change by its very nature has a number of implications. Implications relating to exactly how things will be done. So the pilot is really to help us address these implications in terms of exactly how this thing is suppose to be done.”

Fifty five primary schools from across the country, will take part in testing the new curriculum. But before the scheme comes on line, administrators got together to familiarize themselves with it.

For the past five days, principals of primary schools have been attending a training workshop at the Belize Teachers College, and from the look of things the participants were most receptive to the new curriculum. According to Delarai Sanchez, from Queen’s Square Infant, the curriculum will enhance the school’s four UNESCO pillars, aimed at equipping children with life skills.

Delarai Sanchez, Principal, Queen’s Square Anglican, Inf. Sch.

“These areas are learning how to do, learning to be, learning to live together and learning to know. And if we teach our children, based on these UNESCO pillars. They will be prepared for life.”

Hilda Usher Gutierrez, Education officer for the Toldeo District, says the new curriculum, not only prepares students for the 21st century, but also addresses other gray areas affecting their performance.

Hilda Usher Gutierrez, Education Officer, Toldedo District

“We have reached a point that most people believe that a school education is a ticket to a job some place and the reality is not so. We need to be preparing our children for real life to be taking up jobs on the farm or in the homes and this gives the teacher some space where these things can be worked in.”

But it’s not only the principals who are being prepped for the pilot project; teachers will also be involved in training sessions.

Helen Rocke, Curriculum Field Officer

“This process of training of trainers is leading into an eventual leading of these principals in helping their staff in the development of a prototypical annual scheme. And this training sessions for teachers will be the end of June and the first three weeks in July, where principals will actually sit and lead their staff into helping them set and plan this annual scheme. And as curriculum officers and others we will be sitting there and helping them to facilitate this process, so that in September the implementation will be possible.”

Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

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