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Nov 30, 2023

PEACE: Positive Engagement and Civic Education

If you’ve heard about GREAT, Gang Resistance Education and Training, then you’ll be interested in the following story.  While the GREAT program which follows an American curriculum was implemented by the Belize Police Department for the past few years, a Belizean version of the course has been developed to teach children about the dangers of bullying and gang activity.  It’s called PEACE, Positive Engagement and Civic Education.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has more on this latest initiative.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Resisting the urge to join any of a number of gangs operating in and around the city is arguably the greatest challenge for teenagers growing up in the Old Capital.  In an urban environment that is rife with criminal activity, it is quite easy for young boys and girls to be led astray.  Through positive engagement and civic education, the Belize Police Department is doing its best to dissuade children in at-risk communities from joining gangs.


Richard Rosado

Dr. Richard Rosado, Deputy Commissioner of Police

“The PEACE program is a program for young children to empower them to become sound decision makers, contributing to better community and to a better Belize.  It provides our young children with early skills to say no to illicit activities, no to bullying.  It promotes the need to support each other and build positive relationships and promote positive behavioral attitudes and well-rounded citizens.  Despite this being a Belizean driven program, we could not have done it without the assistance of the US Embassy, for which we are grateful.”


In partnering with the United States Embassy, the police department was able to establish a program that would build on the strengths of the Gang Resistance Education and Training, an evidence-based and effective gang and violence prevention program that is built around a school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula.


Faustino Shal

Faustino Shal, INL Program Specialist, US Embassy

“So this program really is a successor to the GREAT program and working with the team, Belize realized that it needed a program that is Belizeanized and also it’s developed to the context and culture of Belize.  So from that, we, as the embassy, supported this initiative and working with a team and as the embassy hired the services of a curriculum development advisor which is Dr. Priscilla Brown and she has been engaged in working with the police team to develop the curriculum.”


And that course is fully endorsed by the Ministry of Education.


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education

“I have always felt very strongly that, you know, education is a key component in the fight against crime and violence, in the fight against indiscipline and lack of respect in our communities and society.  So I’ve always been willing and prepared to work very closely with the Belize Police Department, with Minister Kareem [Musa].  Him and I have had many discussions about these issues and so when the PEACE initiative and program was conceived and brought to my attention, we were very, very happy to support it, collaborate, work with the managing authorities, principals, teachers to make sure that it was implemented in our school system.”


Applying this curriculum at the primary level will help to steer vulnerable children away from activities that would eventually lead them down a path of crime.  It’s a preventive measure being employed at the earliest stage of education.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs

“We have seen where we have young children, at a very young age, being recruited by gangs, particularly in Belize City.  And so, this type of program targets specifically that, it interrupts violence within the schools, it educates children on their rights, the right and the bad thing to do and of course, like I said, we are very grateful for this partnership, not just with the Ministry of Education, but also with the US Embassy.”


For the PEACE program to be effective, the US Embassy has facilitated several workshops for law enforcement officers to learn the curriculum and presenting it in a classroom setting.


Faustino Shal

“We’ve provided trainings to the trainers, instructor development trainings and also equipment.  As you know noticed, the workbooks, the embassy provided the funds for that and also today, as well, the scooters, the motorcycle scooters that are being handed over.  Those scooters will be used by the instructors to go to the schools to deliver the program.”


Isani Cayetano 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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