Math Olympiad suspended
There is a report tonight that is not good news for high school students. It involves the future of the highly anticipated Belize Math Olympiad (BMO) in which the brightest high school students look forward to test their math skills and endurance in the highly competitive contest. For months, the Belize Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (BAPSS) has been going back and forth with the Social Security Board (S.S.B.), which sponsors the BMO over new rules of engagement. S.S.B., earlier this year, set out a new criteria to take effect in 2012 which essentially allows for students to participate only once in the junior level (first or second form) and once in the senior level (third or fourth form). BAPSS resisted the criteria on the grounds that students in first and third forms sit as alternates and do not compete. S.S.B. retained its stance, but agreed to implement the new criteria in 2013. BAPSS, however, stood its ground on the basis that schools put a lot of time and effort in preparing the students and that the new rules were tantamount to preventing an athlete in taking part twice in a competition. In a letter dated December fifth, BAPSS wrote to the BMO saying “It appears that the S.S.B. is now saying that it will be dropped for this year only, but that the S.S.B. has decided to implement it in 2013. To us this means that the new rule has not been dropped—it has only been delayed. Our position, as voiced by many principals at said meeting, will not change for next year.” Today, the response came from the BMO. It states that “SSB has therefore decided to suspend the BMO for 2012, while we re-evaluate the situation and consider what other options are available, or whether the funds allocated for the BMO need to be re-deployed in another forum through other organizations that will guarantee its continued relevance and effectiveness.” According to the S.S.B., the new criteria would broaden the actual participant base and is not about whether or not funds are available. So there you have it, the BMO, which was launched in 2006 and started in 2007, has been suspended for 2012 and its future hangs in the balance. The Math Olympiad costs in the range of a hundred and fifty thousand dollars that is drawn from the Social Security Development Account that is put aside every year from the yearly workers and employers contributions. This year’s competition was won by St. John’s College. The team members include Einar Marin, Yun-Te Teng, Aaron Stock and Romel Rudon who compiled four thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine points, won SJC’s second championship in a row.