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#456507 - 01/27/13 07:25 AM UB Students Prepare To Protest
Marty Offline
The University of Belize Student Government Association will protest on Monday morning in Belmopan. This is after they wrote the Minister of Education on Monday and demanded a reply by yesterday, Thursday. The letter was again appealing to him to re-consider Government's decision to increase the registration fee for incoming students. The minister did not reply and so on Monday - the Students will take it to the streets of Belmopan. SGA President Hope Amadi told us he has the backing of the students:..

Hope Amadi
"We ask the students if they would support us to go on strike and they said yes. They say that they will support us, to walk out of class and talk to the Minister - the Minister would understand how much this is a problem to us."

"What is it you are hoping to accomplish?"

Hope Amadi
"We hope at the minister and Belizeans at large would acknowledge or know how much their children have grown over the years because over the years people have been taking the youths like they cannot do anything. We hope that by this the minister would understand how serious the students are in the issue that affect them the most which is the cut and the subsidy."

"You have a strong protest. Why don't you join with the BNTU and the PSU?"

Hope Amadi
"This is the issue - if they go on strike on Tuesday and we join them, it wouldn't make much impact. It will still be looked at as the union's demonstration. The students have to be singled out, we have to understand that we are fighting for something that we think is beneficial for the students."

Jules Vasquez
"Yes, but don't you take a risk of embarrassing yourself because right now Hope you alone is standing here and this is the second time I am seeing this."

Hope Amadi
"As I said earlier we have the group in Belmopan trying to get the permit for Monday. They are supposed to be here. If you had listen earlier you would hear when they ask if they should come. I told them not to come anymore because it wouldn't make any sense they come down because it would be late. We have student government right here in Belize City, if you look around and ask them questions and see where they stand on the issue then you would know if I am standing alone or not standing alone."

Jules Vasquez
"Hope, real talk - these people don't want to stand behind you right now. They are sitting down over there. People are not embracing this issue for whatever reason."

Hope Amadi
"That is the issue and that is what we would be asking Belizeans to understand. Everyone in Belize understand this fact - they tell me Hope, what are you doing, when it comes to action nobody would stand behind you and that is why the government is using it against us. They understand that when time comes for action you will see nobody but this is one that is going to be different because on Monday in Belmopan it's going to be happening."

Channel 7

US citizens in Belize gets early warning from US Embassy

Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Belmopan (Belize), University of Belize Demonstration and March

U.S. Embassy Belmopan advises U.S. citizens to avoid the areas surrounding the National Assembly Building, Market Square and Government of Belize offices in Belmopan on Monday January 28, 2013 from 0800-1700.

Belize authorities have confirmed that the President of the University of Belize (UB), Belmopan campus, will lead a demonstration on Monday, January 28, 2013, to protest the decrease of subsidies to the University.

The demonstrators are scheduled to meet at the UB campus at 8:00am and march to the National Assembly Building.

We remind U.S. citizens that demonstrations take place in Belize from time to time in response to world events or local developments. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens should exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. U.S. citizens are urged to stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.


#456690 - 01/29/13 08:16 AM Re: UB Students Prepare To Protest [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

UB students’ small protest

While teachers will show their strength on Tuesday in Belmopan, this morning, the capital was also the venue for another protest. A group of students staged a small protest over government’s decision to cut off subsidies to the university.  They say they want government to re-instate the funding because fees are unaffordable to new students. Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting

That’s the rally cry of some one hundred and fifty plus students expressing their discontent with the Ministry of Education for discontinuing a subsidy to the University of Belize.  As early as nine a.m., students from the Belmopan campus gathered on the compound and then made their way through the streets of the Capital to the steps of Independence Hill in front of the Education Ministry.  Several persons took turns to speak including former Student Government President, Moses Sulph, who is known for the  2005 demonstration which led to a riot and looting in Belize City.


Moses Sulph

Moses Sulph, Nation Builders

“In 2006, we had thirty-two percent poverty. In 2006, we had twelve percent unemployment. In 2006, the honorable minister, Patrick Faber, who was then as aspiring minister said that the economy was too bad to have a fees increase. Now it’s 2013, there is a forty-four percent poverty rate; higher than thirty-two. There is a twenty-four percent unemployment; higher than twelve percent. But yet Mister Faber is saying that we should have a fees increase; something is wrong. The economy is even worse than it was in 2006; hence there should not be a logical reasoning in increasing fees.”

Kaila Moralez, a past UB graduate, stood in solidarity saying that the future of the younger generation must also be taken into consideration.

Kaila Moralez

Kaila Moralez, Demonstrator

“I’m a past graduate of the University of Belize. I also have a four year old daughter and I have to bear in mind that sooner or later, I will be sending her to the same institution. So it should be in my interest to support the idea of not increasing the school fees because I will also have to foot a bigger school fee in the future when my daughter grows up. I can see evidence in the government spending that they can afford not to increase the school fees. The evidence that I see; if they can afford to have a whole program for gang members, they can divert some of those monies towards students. Education changes behavior.”

Oniesha Flores

Oniesha Flores, Belmopan Student Government

“I did my own personal research and I went to the statistical unit and I got some data and it was shocking to know the situation we are living in. With that in mind, the government should find measures or ways to improve the situation in the country.  I’m currently enrolled in the bachelors program and I will be finishing next year. So it won’t directly affect me, but I have to think about my brothers and sisters that are coming up [and] my friends.”

President of the Student Government Association and Board of Trustee Member, Hope Amadi, says that the numbers represent a mere one percent of the student population because many are fearful of victimization.


Hope Amadi

Hope Amadi, President, Student Government Association

“I am happy today; I am very happy today if all Belizeans can listen and hear the echo in the background. That is to tell you that I am not standing alone. At the campus we had almost close to two hundred students; what happened is that some of them dropped back as we were coming. We have a lot on campus that didn’t come out because they feel intimidated. Most of them have families that are working as public officers and they don’t want their faces to be scene and they don’t want to lose their jobs or scholarships. If you are a new student and this is your first in school, you will pay more; if you are an old student and you defied one semester and you coming back this semester, you will pay more; if you are changing program, you will be considered a new student and you will be paying more. So these are the tricks that the government, the minister is using. So, students have to understand that eventually everybody will have to pay it.”

Duane Moody

“How effective do you think this is going to be in getting a change? In getting government to say we will continue with the subsidy?”

Hope Amadi

“Rest assure this is just the starting point. I want Belizeans to understand that yes they showed me on television saying that it was not only me, now they could believe me. Now they could believe me.”

But today is the final day for registration and life on campus appeared normal. According to Public Relations Officer at the University of Belize, Selwyn King, the number of students registered remains unaffected by the events and is fact, even higher than last year’s.

Selwyn King, Public Relations, University of Belize

“Universities all over have had the tradition that the voice of students needs to be expressed. Universities have served as that space for the leaders of tomorrow.”

Monica Bodden, Channel 7

“Will the students who took part in this morning’s demonstration be penalized in any sort of way?”

Selwyn King

Selwyn King

“No, it is just like if a student who calls in sick and who doesn’t attend classes will find a way to catch up. Classes were held as usual; there was no cancellation of classes.  The numbers pertaining to registration as of last week—you are aware that today is the last day of late registration—the numbers as of last week was three thousand eight-hundred and sixty-eight. For the same period last year, we had three thousand three hundred and thirty—so we have exceeded in terms of numbers for the registration. Registration of new students, three hundred and thirty-three. Last year, same number was two hundred and three. So we have exceeded the numbers in terms of the registration.”

Nevertheless, Amadi says that they will rest at nothing until they get the government’s attention.

Hope Amadi

“We are asking the minister to reconsider. We do not want to go to the point of riot or try to cause problems on the street; we don’t want to get to that point. This is a peaceful demonstration—we just walk and say what we want. And this is just a prelude to what can happen if we decide to go up to something else. We don’t want to go to something else. We just want the minister to listen and do what is right.”

Amadi says that on Tuesday they will join teachers in solidarity. Duane Moody for News Five.

The Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, says that government owes UB close to four million dollars. The subsidies that are discontinued amounted to two hundred and forty five dollars per new student, per semester.

Channel 5

UB Students Protest

At the top of the newscast - we told you about the Union's protest which is scheduled for tomorrow in Belmopan. And while the unions will do it tomorrow, the University of Belize did it today. They held their protest against an increase in admission fees for new students. The issue has been on the back burner for weeks, but with no response from the Minister of Education, the UB student government moved it to the front burner with a protest in Belmopan today. It started at 8:30 am with a very modest crowd - but from there it gained some momentum. Not enough to shut down the school, and probably not enough to force any reaction from the ministry but certainly enough to give us a story. Monica Bodden has the story:..

Monica Bodden reporting
Over one hundred UB students marched off the University of Belize Belmopan Campus this morning and made their way through the streets of Belmopan and in front of the National Assembly.

They all held posters and chanted their dissatisfaction in the subsidy cut that has been imposed on new students.

Hope Amadi - President, UB Student Government
"Today demonstration we do hope that with the change the perception of people towards the subsidy cuts especially the minister for him to understand that the students are not happy with the cuts that has been imposed on the new students that are coming in. This issue started far away from 2006. In 2006 we had about 32% poverty rate and during that period the minister said that the poverty rate is too much for us to ask more from the students. It doesn't make any sense for we to ask more from the students. Today we are at about 44% poverty rate and if you said no in 2006 when the poverty rate was 30% plus why would you not imposed it when the poverty rate 40% plus, it doesn't make any sense. We are asking the minister to reconsider and allow the students on the subsidy that he has cut put it back for the students so that they can enjoy going to school and have a reason to go to school."

"It does not affect me, I am not paying. The new students who are coming - that is what I am talking about."

A little under one hundred and fifty students took part in this morning's demonstration - a small turn out when compared with the 2,279 students who attend classes at the UB Belmopan campus.

Hope Amadi - President, UB Student Government
"This morning we had about 200 plus students on campus that was moving around with us but when we come out we had about 100 plus today. I am not satisfied with the outcome but I think it's a statements showing that I am not alone because that has been the criticism - they say Hope, you are doing this and nobody is with you. This is to tell them that; no it's not just me. If you doubt me that I am alone I brought that number to show you that I am not alone. If you doubt that number - that it is too small - I promise I can bring more than that. We don't want to go to the point where we bring every student to demonstrate."

Oniesha Flores - UB Student
"As you can see I am a member of the student government at the University of Belize and we all are united in this effort to work on behalf of the students because actually they are the ones who are saying that they don't want this, so we are here to represent them."

Monica Bodden
"Why did you decided to be a part of today's demonstration?"

Azer Augustine - UB Student
"Actually we are just here supporting the cause. Because then we believe that the increase in school fees is unnecessary, it is absurd and it is not right because the government should have consulted with the University students before increasing the fees. We understand that the fees were set from 2006 but it just took effect now. It doesn't affect me personally because I am not a new student, but it will affect the future generation who are yet to come at the University. As well as not just that but we emailed the minister and the minister refuse to respond to our email. WE believe that the minister could have at least respond to the email even if it wasn't in favor of what we intend to hear. That was disrespectful on the minister's behalf we believe."

Monica Bodden
"Can you tell us about the email that you guys went him?"

Azer Augustine - UB Student
"We sent him an email stating that we are planning to take actions if he didn't invite us to lobby. Certain guys like Hope and other individuals who have interest in this movement decided to talk to him but was unsuccessful in that regard and so the email was basically about this movement."

Oniesha Flores - UB Student
"As you can see the kind of economic situations that we are living in - I did my own personal research and as students we must be informed, we must do our research and it was shocking to see the kind of statistics that as it relates to the income of families and tertiary transfer and different stuff like that. Being aware of that, we must stand up as the people. There are a lot of people who cannot afford tertiary education and then this increase we know that the government can afford it because of the way they have been speaking about the increase in GDP and good economic standings that they have mentioned especially in the New Year's message."

Monica Bodden
"UB is one of the largest institution for students in Belize. Are you guys kind of disappointed in this morning's turn out?"

Oniesha Flores - UB Student
"Apart from the turn out we also have signatures of those that support. The signatures are a part of the evidence that students are in support of this cause."

Today's demonstration was considered peaceful, but according to Amadi, the next might not be so passive.

Hope Amadi - President, UB Student Government
"This is the question they ask me before. They ask me if the minister doesn't reply to our letter what are we going to do? I told them that we don't know yet. We would always ask students what they want to do. We went from class to class to ask the students if they would want to demonstrate and they said yes, that is why we are demonstrating today. Although we didn't get the amount of students who said yes to the demonstration didn't come out because most of them are afraid of losing days or their scholarship or their family getting intimidated. After this we are going back to students again what they want. If the students want us to take the street - we take the street. But rest assure, this is peaceful demonstration, I am not promising the next one will be a peaceful demonstration."

And while this demonstration was taking place at the steps of the National Assembly, back at the UB Campus in Belmopan, classes continued as normal.

Selwyn King - Office of Public Information
"Universities all over have had a long traditional whereby the voices of students needs to be express. Universities have served as that space for the leaders of tomorrow."

Monica Bodden
"Will the students who took part in this morning's demonstration be penalized in any sort of way?"

Selwyn King - Office of Public Information
"No, it's just the students who calls in sick and who doesn't attend classes will find a way to catch up. Classes were held as usual - it was business as usual - there was no cancellation on classes."

To demonstrate that the protest is ineffective, UB's Office of Public Information has shared figures which show that In 2012 -Semester 2, there were 3,832 registered students. As of 4pm this evening, there have been 3,926 registered students for the new semester - and still counting.

Hope Amadi is one of those registered students.

Channel 7


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