35 New Schools Will Be Created
Over the years, the Ministry of Education has amalgamated several schools across the country, but now it is moving toward the construction of thirty-five new schools. And with that, also comes the issue of administrative budget for the faculty and staff as well as operations.
Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
“What we’ve always maintained is that amalgamation is not necessarily geared towards only cutting the number of schools. It is to put good quality proper schools in areas of the country where there is the need. And so we continue to urge the existing schools that may are serving in an area where there is an abundance of opportunities—like a village that has three or four schools, but only has the population for one school. We urge them to come together. We are looking at these areas where there is an under service in terms of the education services to the students who are in need. And that is where we are putting the schools. So it all works well together. I did not say that these schools will be operated by the government. The schools will be built on government land and that the infrastructure will be the property of the government, but that we are wide open to engage our church partners in forming management agreements for some of these schools where it is identified that this is possible. There might be some areas where we might well say government management of this school is best and we will do that. But we are not in any way breaking up the church state system.”
“Building the schools is one thing, but operating the schools is another. The Ministry of Education already takes an inordinate chunk of the national budgetary expenditure. Would then the administrative cost increase in taking on all these new assets and having to manage the infrastructure at least?”
“Well no doubt about that and we never shy away from the fact that education is expensive. You are right; we do get a significant chunk of the national budget, more than a quarter of the national budget to be specific. But we are not necessarily clamoring for more; in fact, if you’ve studied what I’ve always held, we are looking at being more efficient with what is given to us. And if you look at the measures that are being operated in our ministry, we are trying to get a bigger bang out of the buck. These will be state-of-the-art facilities that is not a full guarantee for quality education, but is a step in the forward direction. And if you marry that to all the other initiatives that we are doing in the industry that are homegrown; aiming at improving quality—like the one that I will be discussing next Wednesday—you will see that good quality infrastructure, along with good quality instruction in the classroom, good quality managing of these schools, good quality oversight by the Ministry of Education. It is a win-win situation for all those who are involved.”
The loan motion has already been passed in the House of Representatives and the final details on design and location of the schools will be finalized.
18 Million, 35 New Classrooms, 5300 Students
Phase 2 of The Belize Education Sector Reform Project was launched today. While phase one focused on sharpening the policy direction in the ministry –
phase 2 is all about building new schools – 35 of them for 5300 students to get more equitable access to education. That includes 22 new pre-schools,
five primary schools, and eight secondary schools. It’s a huge 18.3 million dollar education sector reform project funded by the Caribbean Development
Bank. At the launching today at the Biltmore in Belize City, education Minister Patrick Faber explained how they decided where to put the new schools:
Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"The location of these schools have been determined scientifically, it is based on a school mapping model that considers the current supply of school
spaces as against current and projected demand as determined by population projections. People look at it and say how you determine that you will build
that school there; breaking it down for some people. Why is it that you are putting a school there, why can't I get a school here? That has been the
problem in this country as it relates to the school; everybody wants their own school in their own village to do their own thing. My friends we cannot
continue in that way."
"We are looking at these areas where there is an under service in terms of the education services to the students who are in need and that is where we
are putting the schools. We are putting together how we will go about putting the plans together, how the buildings are going to be designed, where are
going to find the land to put the schools. And once that is done then I believe we should move rather quickly to see the construction of these
"One of the areas that has been identified where a school would be needed is the gungulung area of Belize City. Now we know that we want to put a
school in gungulung but where exactly will we find the land is the issue they will work out in a couple of days. So that's what I'm talking about, not
about the general location of where the school would be but the specific portion of land we will build the school on, that is what we are doing to be
working on now.”
All the new schools will be built on government land, and the buildings will be government owned and maintained. But Faber went to pains to say that
this doesn’t mean a renunciation of the church/state system:..
Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
"This minister, this ministry of education under this minister; this ministry of education under the leadership of our current prime minister has no
wish, no desire to interrupt, to break up the church state system, partnership of education in this country; are you hearing me loud and clear? Hear me
but these schools are going to be built and owned by the government and we will engage our denominational partners in managing these schools."
After the project launch, education managers went into a two-day workshop where CDB officials presented on a range of related topics.
The new schools will include 178 classrooms and laboratories, as well sanitary and administrative spaces. The project will also fully outfit the
schools with furniture, equipment and technology.
Faber says that depending on how judiciously the money is spent, they hope to build more than 35 schools.