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Feb 28, 2002

Educators seek new high school curriculum

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Education: It takes the biggest chunk out of the national budget and is probably the most important factor in defining the nation’s future. This morning those who determine the overall shape of our educational system met to unveil some new directions for high school students. Ann-Marie reports.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

Secondary schools in Belize country will soon have a comprehensive guide to better prepare students for further studies or the world of work. Today saw the official launch of the “Secondary Education Initiative”.

According to curriculum consultant Corinth Lewis, the Ministry of Education has just phased in the primary curriculum and as a natural progression, it’s now time for the secondary.

Corinth Lewis, Consultant

“The secondary has long been in a position where there needed to be some kind of standardisation for curriculum across the country. Schools in the different districts have not been even in terms of what they offer, how it’s offered. And we feel that there is really need, for fairness to all the students and for national standards to be set and that all schools know what the curriculum is and that students are having an even distribution in terms what they learn, in terms of a core.”

And in terms of a core, the proposed subjects for lower secondary students will be English, Literature, Spanish, Mathematics, Social Studies and Integrated Science. However, that’s not all they’ll learn.

Corinth Lewis

“They are introducing life skills, they’re also introducing–the arts is seen as very important, and although it is not considered core at this point, there is the need for that to be somehow incorporated so that children are not just academicians in a sense, that it’s not just the very standard academic kind of curriculum, but that they are all these other areas where appreciation of the arts and all that is included.”

Lewis says teachers have already started working on developing the secondary curriculum.

Corinth Lewis

“They already have a curriculum that’s functioning in the high schools, it’s not a case of starting from scratch, they are going to use what they already have and see where there are gaps. What they have done is collected curriculum from all the different high schools, and those are being assessed by Mr. Longsworth, who is in charge of the process. Where there are gaps, these teachers will sit down and fill in those gaps so that there’s a standard, even curriculum right across. Once that has been done, it will be piloted in the schools for a year so that…and because we have so few high schools, all the schools could well be involved in the piloting.”

Piloting is expected to start in September and run for one year, after which modifications will be made before implementation. Education Minister Cordel Hyde feels the new initiative is timely, especially since government spent three and a half years trying to improve the system.

Cordel Hyde, Minister of Education

“By building up the system we’ve increased access dramatically, but we now have a responsibility to improve quality to ensure that we are not just shuffling people through the system. To say well, three thousand more students are going to high school than before, that sounds good, but you have to then make sure that these people are leaving high school with the requisite skills, the proper attitudes, and that they’re functional and able to take their place in society and do a great job at it.

We’re mindful that we’re not getting the best possible quality, and that, a lot depends on the students, a lot depends on the quality of instruction, a lot depends on the administration and the leadership of the institutions.”

Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

In related news, the Ministry of Education has announced that on March fifteenth they will hold a National Teacher’s Award ceremony honouring teachers at all levels of instruction.

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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