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Aug 9, 2023

Think Equal Programme is Launched in Belize

Today, at the Biltmore Plaza in Belize City, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with UNICEF, launched the Think Equal Programme in Belize. The early childhood education programme, valued at half a million dollars is being rolled out in primary schools across the country, for infants one and two children and is focused at reimagining education in Belize through social emotional learning. News Five’s Duane Moody attended the launch and files this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Empowering change through education is about practice using the right tools to get the desired results.  But that change has to start at a young age, in children up to seven years old. On the ground, that foundation in our children was disrupted for two years by the COVID pandemic. The introduction of the Think Equal Programme in Belize brings social and emotional learning for positive life outcomes in children.


Alison Parker

Alison Parker, Belize Representative, UNICEF

“What we realise is that when we speak about the loss of learning, the foundational years were the most affected. So kids who were one had got to three, kids who were three had gone to five and they had had no experience going to school. Kids who were five were now seven and they had not gone to school at all; they’ve all been online and that’s your first interaction with school. And so we recognise that this was a huge gap. And as much as we recognise there were gaps in other age groups, we realise that if you miss that fundamental year, it is going to be difficult. Let’s as much as we are investing in the other areas of the curriculum, let’s get back to the basics – the five and seven year-olds have to be established. And it is not just about numeracy and literacy – these are fundamental pillars that will never leave the education system – it’s about emotional intelligence. It is about managing my feelings. How do I feel today? How do I manage it? Because that’s what we are finding in society today, people though highly educated, still cannot manage certain emotions. And that’s why we are struggling with violence and crime and insecurity and conflict in many parts of the world.”


Minister of Education Francis Fonseca says that the Think Equal Programme compliments the work of the ministry, as it allows training for teachers and provides resource materials. So far, about one hundred Infant One and Infant Two teachers have already been trained.


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education

“Providing lesson plans for our teachers. The whole idea is to make this as accessible and as easy for them to use, easy to understand, easy to teach.”


Duane Moody

“This takes effect in September?”


Francis Fonseca

“It’s rolled out in phases, but we start this year and then gradually we roll out across the country.”



“In the first phase, how many teachers have been trained?”


Francis Fonseca

“I am not sure about the number – I think you would have to get that from the C.E.O. – but I think this first phase, they are teaching. We have a few hundred early childhood educators in our country; I think this first phase, they are dealing with probably a hundred. It is infant one and infant two teachers. I think it is about three hundred classes we are dealing with at infant one and three hundred classes at infant two. So it is the teachers in those classrooms that we are trying to train and get prepared for this.”


This initiative has been in the pipeline for more than a year, coming out of a United Nations summit that spoke to transforming education and investing in early childhood education.


Francis Fonseca

“Those early formative years of a child’s life and development with a real opportunity for us to instil in that child the right values for life. It fits right in with our new national curriculum framework, which is about equipping our young people with the right values and attitudes for living. The objective is that we are producing out of our education system, students who are going to be productive, disciplined, respectful members of our society. Critically important and that’s a part of the Think Equal program. It’s about respecting others, appreciating the differences in other people and understanding that we are not all the same, but everybody has value. And that’s important in terms of our special needs students; having everyone understand that they have a right to lead full productive, meaningful lives and that we must give them every opportunity to learn and to grow and to develop into productive citizens of Belize. So yes, that is an important aspect of it, ensuring that we teach our young children to respect and appreciate students with disabilities.”


Alison Parker

“Diversity does not have to be conflict. Diversity can be complimentary. You come with your skills, you come with your culture and it makes such a massive beautiful melting pot and I think that’s what we are looking at. How do we nurture that going forward? Like the speaker said also, kids are born with such an open mind, they have a white slate – it is what we write on the slate that forms the human being. And hopefully with Think Equal initiative, it is not just a project – it’s a reformative, transformative investment in education.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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