Education minister Patrick Faber was also the chair of SICA's 20th Ordinary meeting Of Education Ministers of Central America, which was held on Ambergris Caye last week Friday and Saturday
Faber oversaw a progressive discussion into the Central American Education Policy.
It's a document which seeks to address the similar challenges that all the SICA member countries face.
He told us today that there was an intensive discussion at that meeting about how the countries might lengthen the school days. This means more hours in each school day, and more days in the school year, but Faber says that the Education Ministers agree that the quality of education should improve accordingly:
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"One of the main topics in that meeting on Saturday morning was the amount of contact hours that happen in our classrooms over the region and I'll tell people that Belize has one of the lowest number of contact hours, I think we have 180, while you have other countries in the region that have up to 225 I think. There was mention of Japan, but Japan is of course not in our region, with 240 contact days. I am saying this because it is now incumbent on us to do better. 180 contact days is by far too small, you see our struggles in mathematics and so on and I have to agree with the move in the region to improve on contact hours. It's not going to happen overnight and of course we will have to dialogue with our partners, but this is something we want to look at lengthening the numbers of hours that our children get in the classroom and our teachers have contact with our children."
Faber says that the initiatives of the Central Education Policy are very much in line with the goals of the Ministry of Education.
Those include improving teacher education and training, expansion of opportunities at the early childhood level of education, and the increased focus on the teaching of languages, specifically Spanish for Belize so that students can be bi-lingual.