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Feb 8, 2024

Senate Debates Change to Mandatory School Age

The Government of Belize is changing the mandatory school age from fourteen to sixteen-years old. An amendment to the Education Rules was passed in the House of Representatives and debated in the Senate this morning. The primary objective of the change is to decrease the nation’s school dropout rate and increase enrollment in primary and high school. The amendment was supported by the Senate, but some senators had reservations about its implementation.


Jamal Swaso

Jamal Swaso, U.D.P. Senator

“These amendments from our side, we welcome it because as a developing nation these changes are needed if you want to build a great foundation for our nation. We need to increase the captured audience that we can use through the education system to get them into school. I would like the government to consider several things, before we move forward with this great effort. Has the government taken into consideration the additional resources needed to be effective and capture these students we now have? We have to take into consideration we do not have enough schools, dilapidated schools, we do not have sufficient teachers, we need more psychosocial support for these students who will be in these classrooms.”


Elena Smith

Elena Smith, NTUCB Senator

“We believe that moving the age from fourteen to sixteen is good for the country because we are looking at ensuring that more of our students and population has a certain level of education and can function in our society. And that is a good thing. However, these things do come with its setbacks. As a teacher of thirty-eight years I understand we can see where students who remain in our primary school system for longer than they should so if we had the primary school age will be fourteen, we do have a few students who are older than fourteen in the primary school students. These are students who are not particularly academically inclined.”


Bevinton Cal

Bevinton Cal, P.U.P. Senator

“I listened to Senator Swaso earlier and his comments. He made some valid comments but it also makes me wonder as a young person where he is at, because him and I are from the south and just at his backyard, if he would do his research before coming here, on the last budget we approved moneys for the education uplifment program or what we refer to as free education. In his backyard at the Delille Academy, that program has enrolled. In his backyard again, George Town Technical High, that free education is also rolling. At the ITVET, just in November the Prime Minister announced that they will be investing one point three million dollars at the ITVET in Stann Creek.”


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