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Sep 7, 2006

Experts plan future of tertiary education

Story PictureEducation: it’s the biggest part of government’s budget and probably the greatest concern of the nation’s parents. This week our best and brightest in the field are taking a close look at the top level of the Belize’s educational pyramid. News Five’s Alyssa Noble reports.

Said Musa, Prime Minister of Belize
?Education is not the answer to the question. Education is the means to the answer to all questions.?

Alyssa Noble, Reporting
That?s the theme under which the Ministry of Education is hosting a two-day National Tertiary Education Conference at the Belize Biltmore Plaza. According to Dr. Corinth Morter Lewis, President of the University of Belize, the conference is all about strategic planning.

Dr. Corinth Morter Lewis, President, U.B.
?Basically what we are looking at is where we go with tertiary education over the next five to ten years. We are all in many ways providing services to students but there is a lot of overlap. Several of the institutions are offering the same courses. Financing of education is becoming a problem and we all depend on the government to some extent to support us. So we felt that if we felt on four specific areas: financing of tertiary, rationalizing of programs which looks at what we offer and who offers it, also the availability of man power, resources that kind of thing. We also look at accreditation which is critical for any institution.?

But the discussions don?t end there … as according to Lewis there is more than one stage in the strategy.

Dr. Corinth Morter Lewis
?Once we have done that, the plan is that we will take the recommendations that come from these two days to two places critically initially and that is to the Ministry of Education so it can help them in policy setting, especially for tertiary. What is it that?s expected of us as a sector in terms of future growth, etc. And two, to the Ministry of National Development in terms of what the country feels are important areas for us to focus on and help us as tertiary to prepare our students and to guide us in terms of what are the priorities they have for education in Belize.?

And the University of Belize is not alone in this belief.

Francis Fonseca, Minster of Education and Labour
?One of the concerns I have had as Minister of Education, we have had at the Ministry, and indeed a concern that is shared by the community I believe is that our tertiary level system is growing, it?s expanding. We have more students going after higher education in Belize, but there still seems to be a disconnect between that higher education and the development goals of our country. The University of Belize is one example. People feel, fairly or unfairly, people feel that we are producing too many students with business administration degrees. And while we certainly don?t want to discourage higher education, we, as a nation, have to make difficult choices about what our priorities are.?

… Choices that will hopefully become clearer by the end of the conference.

Reporting for News Five, I am Alyssa Noble.

That conference comes to a conclusion on Friday.

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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