REPORT #515 August 2002

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

There are roughly 900 estimated rural primary school teachers in Belize. Their abilities are believed to be so far below par, as to be ridiculous. In this year's National Teachers Exam, how badly the teachers are; who are responsible for the mass education of the young student population in Belize, is shown by the fact that only 32% of those teachers taking the exam passed.

The statistics do not tell all the tale of the problem with Belizean lower elementary education. Of around 900 teachers, only 178 took the teachers exam and of this number only 58 passed, giving the 32% pass rate figure. Leaving about 722 teachers, who believed their skills so incompetent, they did not dare take the teachers exam. The actual qualification percentage for the estimated 900 elementary school teachers running classrooms in Belize, is only 19%.

Of those 178 teachers who did take the national teachers exam, they graded by district like this:

Cayo District           55% pass

Corozal District        55%

Toledo District         15%

Stann Creek             25%

Belize District         25%

Orange Walk             25%

Obviously for a government with little, or no money and no talent, or organizational abilities in the Education Department up in Belmopan; the Toledo District is in the most trouble. Again, while the educational bureaucrat types will cry over lack of money, resources and other finger pointing excercise excuses. Any limited resources of this bankrupt country, should obviously be concentrated in the Toledo District.

So what is the problem exactly? Children teaching children for one. Well partly it is money! Or lack thereof. Partly it is people appointed to the education department based on paper degrees, who lack the requisite initiative, go getter attitude and organizational skills. Partly, it is because of the political system where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on the political center of our plantation style political aristocracy voter base in the port town of Belize City. But even that has not worked, as judge the 25% pass rate for the Belize District where the port is located.

There are probably a lot of reasons? But I sure would like to see somebody new with a fire under their butt, running the education department in Belmopan, instead of self satisfied 9 to 5 self important degree'd head honchos. First thing I would do, is see if I get a couple of hundred, Peace Corp volunteers, or VSO volunteers, with or without any certifications, assigned to each rural country elementary school. With the assignment of raising teacher training skills and standards. Let them work from personal experience and do the best they can. Anything has got to be better than this! Elementary school education is the bedrock, without which higher education is useless and relegated to a divided class society of monied people who can pay for quality teaching.

I think we need somebody bright and energetic, not necessarily with an educational degree up in Belmopan. This is an organizational and motivational problem! Not a problem of who is a Ph'd, or not. There are a lot of dumb Ph'ds. You need an entrepreneurial business type running teacher training programs. That person may not even have a high school education. You need DRIVE and INITIATIVE. Obviously, we don't have it in Belmopan.

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