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May 27, 2004

Belizean novelist addresses education summit

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She left Belize over a decade ago with a reputation as the nation’s most accomplished novelist and a job offer at a U.S. University. Today, she was back as keynote speaker on day three of the education summit. News 5′s Patrick Jones reports.

Zee Edgell, Author

“I learnt that my home language is Creole, but that I needed to learn English if I ever hoped to be an author.”

Patrick Jones, Reporting

She is one of Belize’s most accomplished authors, and today Zee Edgell used personal insights from her life to generate discussion on the quality and relevance in education. Edgell told News 5 that while Education is the hope of a young and growing nation, there are worrying trends that need urgent attention.

Zee Edgell

“I worry very much about what is happening in the Caribbean and Belize, about what they call, I don?t know if it?s true or not, but what the call the marginalization of males. And I think men need to rally have some kind of remedial courses at every level. This is not only for the poor and uneducated, but for everyone no matter what their social and economic class. I think what we have to try and do in Belize, although it?s not easy, is to build up our families again by inculcating responsibility to the family because it is with the family unit that the country will prosper.”

And while going back to the basics will require inputs from every aspect of society, Edgell says a good start is in the home, and men can play a crucial role.

Zee Edgell

“It does. It does. From before birth both health-wise and education-wise. But the trouble is a lot of parents cannot read and write. But I always say that if that is true, then they also must be helped, and when the children get to a certain age maybe they can read to the parents. But I think some kind of public education campaign, I think the radio, the T.V., and all the media can do so much to teach people to read.”

And increasing literacy is only the beginning, as the veteran writer, educator, and journalist threw down a heavy gauntlet to the media.

Zee Edgell

“Bottom line or not, all the radio stations and all the TV stations should have some kind of public education as a contribution to the community from where that bottom line arrives. They have to have some kind of social responsibility, because this is not like it?s a big European country. Even in the United States we have C-SPAN with without a single advertisement, which is some channels came together and set up that station as an educational channel. They do school interviews, book fairs, and there is not a single ad on that. And so maybe the stations can get together and even offer an hour or two to start with some kind of programme for young people, their parents, and the general community.”

It’s an idea, which along with other resolutions and recommendations that come out of the three days of discussions will form the basis for the Ministry of Education’s long-term plans. And once decided, when will actual implementation start? Stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted. Patrick Jones for News 5.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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