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Jul 18, 2013

Challenges and opportunities in education sector

This week, we have been focusing on a recent report commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank which shows that despite the high level of spending from the public purse, the education sector is in a state of chaotic failure. More children are out of school than in the classrooms, more are dropping out of school and joining gang activities and teachers are sadly anemic in training. The recommendation is for efficiency, quality and equity.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has a third report on the document called Challenges and Opportunities in the Belize Education Sector, authored by Emma Näslund-Hadley, Haydée Alonzo and Dougal Martin.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Amid the gloom that overshadows the existing education system is the National Education Strategy for 2011-2016.  It is an approach that intends to realize an equitable increase in access and coverage at the preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary levels, as well as special education for boys and girls.  That plan of action aims to improve the quality and importance of education at all stages through teacher training and better governance.  As it is, schools are not being held accountable for the usage of resources, nor are there consequences for underperforming institutions.  The involvement of parents in school management is, for the most part, minimal, contributing to a lack of accountability.

 

Ironically, the Ministry of Education has very little or no control over what takes place inside the classrooms of denominational schools.  The churches handle the implementation of curricula, teaching practices, as well as teacher and student attendance autonomously.  The absence of an information system and additional supervision prevents the ministry from intervening in low performing schools.  While the national testing system, i.e. the Primary School Examinations, functions well, the test results are not used as a barometer to measure or evaluate school performance.  The ministry has also failed to evaluate what education models are most suitable to the improvement of student learning within the Belizean context.

 

At the lower level, government is keeping its promise to achieve universal primary education as a Millennium Development Goal by 2016.  To do so it must curb the current downward trend and increase coverage from ninety-two to one hundred percent by such time.  Moreover, there are plans to increase the total enrollment rate from sixty-five to seventy percent in secondary schools.  Interestingly, the ITVETs which have been established to provide an alternative to students better suited for vocational learning, are also being underutilized.  There is a proposal to ensure that each of the six institutions operate at a minimum of ninety percent of its capacity, thereby increasing its overall enrollment.

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1 Response for “Challenges and opportunities in education sector”

  1. venus says:

    Will not improve until we put in a performance appraisal system for teachers. Root out poor performing teachers after three years of poor performance and put in a fund raising policy for all schools.

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