Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Education, People & Places » Belizean Youths Recommending Solutions to Tertiary Education Financing Challenges
Aug 11, 2022

Belizean Youths Recommending Solutions to Tertiary Education Financing Challenges

Over the last six months, a group of Belizean youths have been working to develop public policy to improve the education sector in Belize. Two groups were created from the participants. One group tackled the secondary school curriculum, while the other looked at the issue of tertiary education financing. This morning in Belize City, those participants presented their findings to representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Development Finance Corporation (D.F.C.), and the National Bank of Belize. News Five’s Paul Lopez was there. He filed the following report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Young Belizeans, with the help of the International Republic Institute (IRI), are working together to pave the way for greater access to affordable tertiary education financing in Belize.


Amelin Mendez

Amelin Mendez, Participant, Caribbean Youth Fellowship Program

In Belize, tertiary ed students normally access tertiary education through scholarships. The normal prof and tech, Chevening, Cuba, and Taiwan. That is it. Outside of that, you have to get a loan, either from D.F.C. that is the only institution in Belize that focuses on educational loans, starting from six percent and seven point nine percent onwards. From the other institution, it ranges as high as fourteen percent.”


Access to affordable tertiary education financing is considered a major issue for tertiary level students in Belize. Recently, the I.R.I. supported a group of young Belizean leaders in the development of a public policy framework to address this issue.


Amelin Mendez

“We looked at what is required for a ten thousand dollars loan, you need one guarantor. For twenty thousand, you need two. Above that, you need collateral, likely real estate. But, let us be real. How many young Belizeans have access to collateral, in order to access tertiary education? So, that is the foundation of the development of our policy. Things we look at are number one, how many credit hours are required. Right now in Belize to get an associate’s degree you need seventy-two credits. But, regionally and internationally it is sixty credit hours, which reduces the cost. So this is something we can look at and it is a low lying fruit. For a bachelors degree regionally and internationally it is like a hundred and twenty credit hours. In Belize it is a hundred and fifty to a hundred and sixty. Every credit hour comes at an additional cost.”


Additional recommendations within the policy framework includes the Government of Belize partially guaranteeing students loans in place of collaterals, deducting  student loan payments from Social Security contributions, and the reduction of interest rates upon completion of study.  In attendance at this morning’s presentation was Dr. Louis Zabaneh, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, who gave us his thoughts on these recommendations.


Louis Zabaneh

Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Minister of State, Ministry of Education

“We have our financial realities right now in Belize, so that is not something we could implement right away. But, clearly it is a path that we need to look at to get their ultimately. At this point there are some great things we can do right away which includes making sure that these national institutions such as the National Bank and D.F.C. has access to very low cost loans to them, two percent or less, that when they add on their administrative fee, it is considerably lower than what students are presently paying. So, that is one of the strategies we are pursuing. We also got ideas that when the student that has the loan has a job, that there is an incentive for them to make sure that they get a job in Belize, that now the interest rate goes down.”


Belize’s tertiary education net enrolment is at twenty-five percent, compared to the regional average of fifty percent enrollment.  These youths found that countries with high tertiary education enrollment have established mechanisms that reduce the risks associated with student loans. In Barbados, education at the tertiary level is free.


Louis Zabaneh

“This is very timely, because we are about to start a process for tertiary institutions. We are planning to develop a national tertiary strategy that came from them, so that we can look at things like financing, accreditation, quality of education, accessibility, relevance to our national.”

Marcelo Salas, the Caribbean Program Director at IRI, says the recommendations developed by participants can be a game changer in addressing the issues raised in accessing tertiary education financing.


Marcelo Salas

Marcelo Salas, Caribbean Program Director, I.R.I.

“Quite honestly we are very surprised of the quality and the seriousness and how robust the investigations, the research, and the proposed solutions the youths came up with. We are very pleased with all the development of the program and how it played out and how these youths really understand the problems of the country and what is needed for the future and what is needed to strengthen and help the progress of the country. We are very pleased and also very impressed that the authorities were so open to hear these youths and took some of the recommendations.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.


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.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed