Record P.S.E. takers, but not all seats occupied in high school
Seven thousand one hundred and seventy-six students sat the 2012 Primary School Examination. The record number of students calls into question whether or not classroom spaces would be adequate in high schools. By 2015, fulfillment of the Millennium Development goals include one hundred percent enrollment in high school. Education Minister Patrick Faber says there are spaces for at least seventy-five to eighty percent of the children who finish primary school, but there are personal factors that prevent some children from being enrolled in high school. News Five spoke to the education minister who says that there are available seats in high schools classrooms across the country.
Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
“For some time we thought there might have been slippage in terms of enrollment at primary school. The census of 2010 indicates that we are at ninety-five percent enrollment and that is something positive because of course our goal is to be able to fulfill the MDG goal of achieving one hundred percent enrollment by 2015. So we are well on target with that. I raise that today because there are some corners of the media who looked at the number of people who took the PSE—probably the highest number in the history of this country—to look at it on the negative side. To view it as I’ve said to have the glass being half empty than half full. To me that is a success that we’ve been able to get that increasing number of students to that level where they complete primary school and to convince this nation that despite the scare that some are trying to make in the media; that we’re doing quite well with spaces in terms of secondary education. But let me set that quarrel to rest that in fact this government and our partners have worked tremendously to make sure that there is space. And anybody who check the records can see that. In Stann Creek and Toledo there is a space of every child, in the Belize district there is a space for every child, in Orange Walk and Corozal there are six high schools each respectively—in fat if you look at it; just to show the situation on average, there are close to sixty high schools in this country. If we assume that each high school that can take in a hundred and we know that there are some who can’t, but there are also some that are taking in up to two hundred and fifty—so it averages out—so you can see that there can be six to seven thousand spaces quite easily in this country. If you take into consideration as well that the ITVETs are underutilized, if you take into consideration another fifteen hundred students or so that are engaged in the adult and continued education program that the ministry supports across the country; if you take into consideration that there are institutions like the 4H, like the magazine road terminal projects and so on then of course there are spaces. There are other issues that contribute to students not getting to high schools.”
“Are there high schools that have spaces for these students that aren’t making it?”
“Why yes. In fact Jose that’s what I am saying. Let me make a very simple example; the students who live in the Belize River Valley Area. There is a high school there called the Belize Rural High School that many of them don’t go to; the parents believe in sending their students to Belize City and the other parts of the country. So you would hear those parents say that they noh got no space fi mi child, but there is a space. There are spaces at Belize Rural High, there are spaces possibly at Ladyville Technical, there are spaces at Sadie Vernon, there are spaces at Maud Williams High School, there are spaces at Excelsior, there are spaces at the Gwen Liz Evening School Program.”