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Feb 9, 2023

Education Minister: Zero Tolerance for Inappropriate Behaviour

Francis Fonseca

This evening, Ministry of Education officials, including Chief Executive Officer Dian Maheia and Chief Education Officer Yolanda Gongora, are meeting with the father of a female student from Canaan High School in Belize City over allegations of inappropriate behaviour from a male teacher. Reports are that the teacher made unsolicited advances toward the student and that the school management failed to act accordingly to address the issue. Today, Education Minister Francis Fonseca says that his Ministry is investigating the incident. Aside from the concerns about the school management’s response in the case, Fonseca says that children must be protected and there is zero tolerance for these behaviours. 


Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education

“The time that they took to bring this to the attention of the Ministry of Education the authorities, so that we can take action. These are very, very serious allegations, very serious matters and we all have to take them very seriously. And certainly as the Minister of Education, I do; the Ministry of Education, we do, but we have to ensure that at every other level of the education system – the managements, the principals – that they all take these reports very seriously and act on them with a sense of urgency when it is brought to their attention. I have to be responsible because I have to work with everyone, but certainly there must be zero tolerance for that kind of behaviour in our education system, in our schools. We must do everything to protect our children; that is our sacred responsibility. And as I said, that can’t be just at the top and the Ministry of education saying that. It has to be practice d at every level of the education system – managers, principals, teachers – they have to be held accountable. Bottom line is that when we uncover these things and there is evidence to support these allegations that we deal with these individuals forcefully, decisively and we deal with them through the criminal justice system. So that when we start to send these people to jail, and they realise that they are going to jail for preying on young people, I think the message will be sent loud and clear.”


Minister Fonseca says that stricter policies and procedures will be put in place to minimize the delay in reporting on matters like these to the proper authorities.

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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