The Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, made no comments on the developments in the church-state system when we caught up with him at the inauguration of a new education center, formerly the Venus Bus Terminal. A little less than two years ago, fourteen year old Dylan Ayuso, a second form Wesley College student, was found dead on September twenty-ninth 2010 inside the abandoned building. The building on Magazine Road has been taken over by the Ministry of Education and transformed into an education facility for youths. The name of the institution will be formalized after a competition is held. But Minister Faber expects that after opening more of these centers, at least one thousand, five hundred primary and early high school dropouts will be taken off the streets.
Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
“It is the youth training and education facility that we’ve talked about since the Prime Minister announced the Restore Belize initiative. You remember when ITVET used to be CET; that it catered those young people who were early school leavers who were dropping out of the upper level of primary school and the lower level of secondary school. Since the transformation of the CET to ITVET, that has created a void since we more target high school graduates for the ITVET program now. We have so many of our young people who are at that age who have not enrolled in some productive activity and in fact are now falling prey to the criminals. And that’s why we announced at the time of the Restore Belize Initiative launching that we will be putting in place these kinds of measures that we said at the time would capture up to fifteen hundred young people and this is a humble start to that.”
“After this facility fell into disuse, I believe it once became a crime scene for a youth who was murdered; I believe his name was Ayuso. Is there some sort of symbolism, a victory for you personally?”
“Certainly, this place, if you came here before the renovation started was very sad—people had vandalized the building, they used it as a toilet, you’ve pointed out that a young man was murdered in here—it was a site to behold. In fact we had to sanitize the building several times before even starting to work on it. So what is it today is a symbol of success—not only for myself, for this Ministry of Education and Youth and for the all the residents in this area. Of course it also stands in the Collet Constituency which I am very proud of.”
“How many persons will this particular institution cater for?”
“Initially we are looking at one hundred and fifty, but as we expand the program, if you notice, there are beams on the top and we hope to put on a top floor that will be made up of all classrooms. We intend to expand—we intend to do day and night classes here. So gradually we hope to serve up to five hundred students. And we have a listing of the programs. When you get to tour inside, you will see that we will offer—starting the new school year—several of these programs that will make them readily be able to work after finishing or completing this program. It includes: barbering, cosmetology, hair braiding, juice making and the traditional ones like sewing. But it will also house a state of the art music studio. And we hope to have this entire building retrofitted with all the equipment that is needed for the start of new school year. It is just a shell today—just the building and the bear furniture, but we hope that by September, it will be in full swing catering to the needs of the young people here.”
Faber says that the Ministry of Education hopes to eventually open a similar facility at the site of Excelsior High School.