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Jul 15, 2013

Belize at the bottom of academic ladder in Latin America and Caribbean

A new and independent report commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank indicates that there is a crisis in the education system. In fact, Belize is at the bottom of the academic ladder in Latin America and the Caribbean. The government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually but the returns in education access, quality and equity are poor. There are more youths outside the school system, but few will gain employment and according to the dismal report, a whole generation is at risk. News Five’s Isani Cayetano looks at the report.

 

“Despite high levels of public spending on education, glaring inequalities in access and quality persist at all levels.  Coverage and access at all levels of education are insufficient and inequitable.  Many of these enrolled in the schools will repeat or drop out before graduating.  Many children are still not achieving satisfactory levels of performance on exams.  There is a serious shortage of trained and qualified teachers at all levels of the system, and there is limited enforcement of accountability.  Spending in the sector is inefficient.” - Challenges and Opportunities in the Belize Education Sector; Education Division, IDB

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The annual financial plan for education is quite often the largest chunk of public funds set aside for investing in the development of students, from preschool through to the tertiary level.  Every year, there is overwhelming emphasis placed on the need to bolster the existing education system and nowhere is this more evident than during the budget debate to usher in the new fiscal calendar.  Notwithstanding a constant injection of capital, the sector is grappling with a severe decrease in output.

 

The recently published results of a comprehensive study conducted by a team of researchers, commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank in 2009, indicate that Belize’s education system is in crisis.  The overall problem, a wide-ranging series of issues beginning at the kindergarten level, is taken within the context of the Caribbean.  Comparatively speaking, only one in every three children aged three and four are attending school.  That ratio has remained fixed since the survey was conducted five years ago.  In Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, eighty percent of their infant populations are enrolled in preschool.

 

Attendance in primary school is also down from 1999, when ninety-five percent of children were present in the classroom.  That fraction has since reduced by three percent, along with it the possibility of achieving universal primary education, as a Millennium Development Goal by 2015.  The completion rates are also well below the average in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Two out of every five children attending primary school will accomplish that level within an eight-year period.  The trend also indicates that there is a high repetition rate, as well as a higher dropout rate among boys in primary school.

 

The problem, however, is not limited to students alone.  The low content skills also reflect a low level of teacher training.  In an attempt to assess the subject knowledge of current and potential primary school teachers, they had to sit the very same Primary School Examinations administered to their pupils.  Only a third of the teachers who took the tests scored an A in the exams.  One in every five teachers were unable to score a C.

 

 

While there is nominal improvement in the number of students at the secondary and tertiary levels, more than half of those of secondary school age remain out of school.  In 2009, a growth of eight percentage points was recorded among students accessing sixth form education and beyond, whereas other English-speaking Caribbean countries have more than doubled that figure.

 

Ethnically, the number of Mayan children accessing education at all levels is significantly lower than other groups in the country, particularly in secondary school where only forty percent is in attendance.

 

In conclusion, the results of this study, according to the summary provided by the research team, suggest that the teaching methods currently in use are dated and revolve primarily around teachers and not so much their students. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

We’ll continue to follow this story about the crisis in the education sector in the days to come. 

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18 Responses for “Belize at the bottom of academic ladder in Latin America and Caribbean”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    The average Belizean has no money left over from their wages to pay for education. The cost of living is too high. Their net pay is at subsistence level.

  2. Beachman says:

    Think how much lower the attendance percentages would be if thousands of Belizean children did not receive support from churches and individual supporters. Belize education is in even worse condition that what the IDB survey shows.

  3. Rod says:

    This is no surprise this country and people have been dragged into the drain by the useless corrupt sick pm and gov . They have managed to take Belize and its people from being the best in education to now the worse and this is the same for every aspect of life in this country and yet you belizeans sit back and take it you deserve it.

  4. belizean says:

    I am very fortunate to have been educated in Belize, I had wonderful teachers like Mrs. Daisey Hornby, Dr Colville Young among much others, the discipline instilled by those teachers back then I still carry with me today as an adult. I am not pointing fingers at any teachers in our system but this is a two way street, where does the parents fall in this? now a days these kids are stuck playing games on their computers or other electronic devices or facebook, I read some of the comments on facebook and their sentences does not make any sense what kind of sentence begins with # or instead of spelling out a complete word they just used one letter.

  5. dalmer says:

    I agrre their is someting wrong PM barrow in his last general elections campaign promised FREEE EDUCATION FOR ALL,AND A PIECE OF LAND FOR ALL BELIZEANS,where is it? the pm and his cronies and minister are getting richer and richer evryday selling lands that belong to the people,,while d poor have to pay the consecuence, eductaion is more expensive that ever,starting for kindergarden to primary and high school is worst and with the high level of unemployment people cannot afford for school fees that are high at least only for food.with this government their NO HOPE,WE ARE LOST.

  6. Young Gial says:

    Ok, this is no surprise and Belize should know why all this is happening, because our Minister of Education has been slowly seeking his mission of remove the church from the Education system. This is what you get when you remove God and religion from our country. This is where our entire country is headed with secularism. I pray that our country wakes up and stand up for Christ, stand up for our Creator and stand up for Religion to remain in every area of our Country’s needs, policy, laws, schools, public areas, work place, national anthem, national prayer, and everywhere you turn. May God prevail for our country’s sake and for the sake of our people in this young nation.

  7. Al says:

    The teachers use to care about us students. The were dressed nicely, they knew our parents and could talk to the parents when us kids were not up to standards. They respected us, they did not only teach us our lessons, they taught us how to be good people. School was free, I believe we paid five cent or ten cent every Monday. The way we were taught was by repetition until we got the basics down. The students today cannot even speak English. I listen to the police officers and you cannot make sense of what they are saying when they talk about issues.

    @ young Gial, you are so right on. Every country that has wealth and should not be poor are
    poor. Look at America every place they put God out of falls apart. The Bible says when the right man is in rule over a country the people are happy and they prosper. This is why I believe the Bible because it tells you everything about this life and how to make it good. I stand with you.

  8. Nesher says:

    @Ricky: i do agree that the majority of wages in our country are basically subsistence wages and the uneducated get the benefits because of “string pulling”
    @Rod: i won’t entertain PERIOD
    @Belizean: i do agree that our education system was better back den, i remember as a child our principal had us sing OUR national anthem before entering classes each morning. Wen need to start doing that more…..i do agree that children nowadays pay more attention to whats the latest fad, game, electronic device, etc. n fail to realise a good book is good as well
    @YoungGial: i believe our education system needs a kick in the butt to boost it into the 21st century n less dogma interfering, remember religion has been the catalyst for almost every atrocity committed by man

  9. Firebrand says:

    Do you remember when students felt guilty for not completing homework assignments? Do you remember when students did not study for a test and failed? Do you remember when teachers made home visits to inform parents about their child’s progress? Do you remember when teachers went to Teacher training school to learn the best pedagogical/teaching practices? Do you remember when parents did not have to pay more than half of their income for tuition and school costs? Do you remember when students felt accountable for their own learning even in a teacher centered environment? Do you remember when you could spot a teacher by their moral and ethical behavior, even on the weekends? Do you remember the response from parents when they learned that their children were misbehaving in school? Do you remember when a big brother or sister or cousin helped as struggling sibling at home? Do you remember the “village” mentality? I went to school in Belize and have not failed not one standardize test in the U.S!! Thanks teachers, parents, cousins and brothers.

  10. Moses Sulph says:

    Have been saying this for a long time, instead of the Minister of Education pay attention to these matter and see how we can change the situation, they prefer to victimize and wrongly slander those who are pointing out the obvious… Our leaders are shameless

  11. Young Gial says:

    I respect your opinion Nesher, however, this does not mean there is truth to it. Furthermore, I don’t believe your statement is even correct, I believe you meant to say that man has been the catalyst to almost every atrocity committed, these people just happened to be religious people. I would never put my head on the block for any man that is a religious man, but I would put my head on the block for Christ, the Bible and the Supreme-God’s teachings. There is where my faith rests assured, in His Promises.

  12. Eye in the Sky says:

    Why am I not surprised.

    The majority of teachers are low life alcoholics and drug users.

    How can you teach a child after spending the night drunk in a brothel.

  13. Gale says:

    The teachers use to care about the children education. my school was St John’s Primary…………………Teachers like Ms Sybill Reyes, Mrs Young, Ms Henderson…………these teachers….if you didn’t pass your grades, you repeat the class……………Mr Bowie our Principal was the best………….for the sake of the children which is our future…..I hope they understand. Belize use to be the best in the Caribbean……come on Teachers, you know without the basic back ground the kids are doom.

  14. Selvio Martinez says:

    Belizeans are not dumb people. Belizeans must demand more from the education system. I must say that having been educated in my country, it was one of the best experience of my life. As an educator, students learn best when there is an interest in them including teaching to their learning style. Students by and large learn when their interest is considered.

  15. Joke of Belize says:

    Who is the minister in charge of this joke called education?

    He is the brother of the unindicted drunk driver of a GOB vehicle.

    school time: 1+x=y vehicles destroyed by GOB driving fools.
    Add money, shake and look away.
    There is your education, all you should know.

    Nap time, go back to sleep my Belizean brothers and sisters, the joke is on us.
    Corruption befits us, like a fine gown.
    Scum bags are us, wear them proudly in our business and slumber.

  16. Joke of Belize says:

    Who is the minister in charge of this joke called education?

    He is the brother of the unindicted drunk driver of a GOB vehicle.

    school time: 1+x=y vehicles destroyed by GOB driving fools.
    Add money, shake and look away.
    There is your education, all you should know.

    Nap time, go back to sleep my Belizean brothers and sisters, the joke is on us.
    Corruption befits us, like a fine gown.
    Scum bags are us, wear them proudly in our business and slumber.

  17. Joke of Belize says:

    @young Gial

    our so called minister of education does nothing against God, he does no screw with his master.

    Pay your preacher more, he will fix Belize education, his connection to God is more secure,
    not some has-been GOB wannabe who has no clout with God.
    God wants Belize to have the worst education, submit to his will.
    There is reason for this, have faith in your beliefs, facts don’t matter, just faith.
    Murder and crime in Belize, for a divine plan, a test, but do not test God, you shall die for it.

  18. Joke of Belize says:

    @young Gial

    our so called minister of education does nothing against God, he does no screw with his master.

    Pay your preacher more, he will fix Belize education, his connection to God is more secure,
    not some has-been GOB wannabe who has no clout with God.
    God wants Belize to have the worst education, submit to his will.
    There is reason for this, have faith in your beliefs, facts don’t matter, just faith.
    Murder and crime in Belize, for a divine plan, a test, but do not test God, you shall die for it.

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