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Jun 4, 2014

Ministry of Education explains merger of 3 Belize City high schools

The Ministry of Education this morning finally addressed reports of the proposed merger of the resources of three high schools in the south side of Belize City. MOE confirmed that it involves Excelsior, Maud Williams and Sadie Vernon and that the decision was taken based on performance. The Ministry also admitted that the move will result in the displacement of some teachers but that number remains unknown. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the details on how the new arrangement will work.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Concerns about the merger of educational resources between Excelsior, Maud Williams and Sadie Vernon high schools have been abuzz recently, with speculation of an expected amalgamation seeing the displacement of a number of teachers.  Today, the Ministry of Education came forward to offer much needed clarity on the issue, debunking rumors that the aforesaid schools will form one secondary school.

 

Brenda Armstrong

Brenda Armstrong, Ministry of Education

“All three schools remain as individual schools.  First and second form classes will be done at your home base but when it comes to third form, in order to have every student be able to choose across the board, there is where the combinations took place and so where the resources were best that is where the course will be delivered.  If a science lab was excellent at School X or School Y then biology and chemistry will be delivered at School X and School Y and all the students who opt for that choice will go and have their classes at that campus.  In other cases where there are sufficient students who wanted to take the course at a specific school but the teacher, the best teacher is at another school, the teacher will move.  And so there is collaboration of resources once we get into the delivery of the options.”

 

The rationale, according to Sister Caritas Lawrence, is based on a thorough review of the overall performance of each school, taking into careful consideration existing factors that are affecting their individual functions.

 

Caritas Lawrence

Sister Caritas Lawrence, Ministry of Education

“There was a common thread that ran through the three schools, that with the three schools there was a loss in population, there was a problem with dropouts, there was a problem with failure rate, there was a problem with curriculum.  Many of the children, the schools, I call them open schools, as long as you apply you can get in.  It’s not based on what your P.S.E. results are, like other schools.  These schools are for all of our children who need an education.”

 

While reception of the proposal has been somewhat lukewarm, the primary concern is the number of teachers who will be laid off.  That figure remains open.

 

Sister Caritas Lawrence

“We don’t know the total.  You know why we don’t know the total fully because [of] two things, there are some schools that don’t have a person to teach something and so the one person, a teacher from another school might have to be hired by another school.  No teacher that is needed in the new plan will be worked off, you know, will be set off and maybe the ministry will be able to find some other way to deploy some of the teachers but we don’t have a full answer but we can give you an answer.”

 

While Minister of Education Patrick Faber admits that there will be redundancy, he says that the ministry will do its best to secure employment for qualified teachers in other areas of the education system.  Conversely, the same spirit will not be extended to teachers who lack pedagogical skills.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“If a member of staff of any of these schools is made redundant that that teacher continues or needs to be put immediately on pension so that there are two options when that kicks in if that needs to kick in.  Firstly, that if that person is expected to continue in the teaching profession but is merely being displaced because of the kind of deployment that is happening at the school at that time, because of the redundancy then that person will be put on what they are calling a temporary pension and, of course, as soon as that person can be reemployed in the education system that pension will cease.  There are other instances where we don’t expect people to be reemployed and they will start a pension at whatever age they are until they depart.  We are trying to make sure that that is minimized, the situation where teachers are made redundant.”

 

The fact of the matter though, is that with or without the union of resources teachers would be dismissed at the end of the academic year because the high schools are presently overstaffed.

 

Sister Caritas Lawrence

“If we did not, if a program was not being set, those teachers, many of them that would go off on, what’s the word we use, redundancy, they would have gone off anyhow because the schools are severely, except for Excelsior, overstaffed.  So redundancy would have occurred whether or not we tried to make the school a better place for all our children.”

 

Marshall Nunez

Marshall Nunez, Chairman, Excelsior High School

“In so far as the pupil to teacher ratio, we don’t have that problem at Excelsior High School because that transition that we went through in 2009 gave us the opportunity to fix some of the problems that I think the other two schools continue to encounter within the other few years, so they are now coming on stream.  The initiative is good and as far as Excelsior High School is concerned I am sure that the principal has indicated that we have seen incremental improvement in the students that we have had at our school.  So from that perspective we have to support the initiative.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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2 Responses for “Ministry of Education explains merger of 3 Belize City high schools”

  1. Timber says:

    When this story first broke last week, I wrote a long post on this. This is a bad idea. How about improving the conditions of these schools? Who decides which teachers get laid off? The end product of this; frustration by teachers and some decent parents; but, last but not least, you will see the amounts of fights that will be occurring in these schools. Look at the demographic location of where 90 % of these kids who will be attending these schools. I don’t want to sound prejudice and discriminatory, but it’s reality. How can one, as a parent, feel comfortable with his/her child attending these schools when a simple misunderstanding will probably wind up involving older siblings and parents on both sides who may or may not already have issues with each other. Ask Sister Caritas and Brenda Armstrong when was the last time they ever ventured into Fabers Road, Plues Street, Mahagony Street. (Never). Marshall doesn’t care. He should be one of the ones fighting against this, knowing his upbringings and surroundings. He was a success story, he came fro Trenchtown and was able to get through SJC. He didn’t and couldn’t give any problems there. However, all that went down the tube because he had kids going to Grace Primary who turned out to be bullies and thugs and his ex wife used to go there all the time and curse the teachers out. He, most of all should have known what structure and discipline did for you and he never showed his face. I guess you can take the hog out of the mud but you can’t take the mud out the hog.

  2. Peter says:

    Belize is losing an unacceptable number of students between the transition from Primary school and high school. What does the Ministry of education do? Create another layer to prevent students from completing highschool. same old dead heads at the ministry, same old dead ideas.

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