The Ministry of Education's annual country-wide tour is in its third leg. Today the visits to schools continued at two schools in the Collet Division. Bur before the Minister of Education had his one-on-one talks with the students to encourage them to stay in school, the students took to the streets in a Stay in School parade:

Today Gwen Liz High School along with some Unity Presbyterian students participated in a stay in school parade. The Ministry of Education says this initiative is critical to the development of the education system in Belize. Today some of those students told us why it's important to stay in school:

Giovanni Moody, Student
"The children of today settle for mediocrity, at Gwen Lizarraga we do not. I encourage all young peoples to reach for higher level, don't follow drugs, don't follow the now a day's situation, do you best in school and stay in school."

Eugustavia Galvez, Prefect
"It is important to stay in school because it will carry you a long way and give you something positive to do and keep you out of trouble."

"The message I want to send to them is to stay in school because the most important for the poor people, the lower class in society is education; that is the way that our people are trying to get out of poverty. As you know not most of our family is wealthy and rich, we have to use education as our means out of being poor and our means for providing for our families in the future. So you should take education very serious. With education no one can take that away from you."

Patrick Faber: Minister of Education & Youth
"Well indeed it is important for us to say to our children, our students and the young people that they need to stay in school. But we need to tell them as well that it is not only an education that will help them to be productive, one young person commented to me yesterday 'even though I have a high school diploma or I am going to 6th form I cannot find a job' and that is so true. There needs to be a combination of things to make success; ambition and drive is certainly one of those and if our young people don't have hope that is not going to work and that is why on these tours I try to speak to them on an one-on-one basis as well and I try to speak to the entire body of students in order to make sure that they understand that we are depending on them and that we value them."

In adding value to these students and their school, the Ministry also handed over 20 computers to Gwen Liz. These computers were given by the Taiwanese Government as a part of the Restore Belize Project.

Patrick Faber: Minister of Education & Youth
"We are giving these computers to Gwen Liz not because they are in my constituency but because this is the school that host the high school equivalency program in the evening that caters to now 250 adult learners many of whom are single parents and some of the trouble young peoples in our society, so we are giving this donation as a contribution to the effort of Gwen Liz to create better citizenry and as a part of the RESTORE Belize initiative. These kinds of programs that have been set up are in effort to restore so it is indeed a very joyous occasion."

Lorna McKay, Principal - Gwen Liz High School
"These computers will be an excellent addition to our 2 computer labs because our labs have mostly computers that are outdated, so they will be an excellent addition and it will help kids in making education better at Gwen Liz."

And in striving for excellence at this Southside high school, the work is ongoing to keep students motivated.

Lorna McKay, Principal - Gwen Liz High School
"It is a challenge and what we do is training for teachers and we try to keep students in school by working with them, encouraging them, giving different strategies, teaching differently because they are very active so you need to make sure that you change the strategies to be in line with the education system."

In working to improve the education system, Gwen Lizarraga High continues to work closely with the Ministry of Education get young people in school through its Evening Division Programme which gives them the opportunity to get an education:

Lorna McKay, Principal - Gwen Liz High School
"The students that are here want to come to school they have been given a second chance to come to school and they are attending school. We have about 262 students right now from ages 16 - 49 coming and they are doing well in school."

Jenesia Lambey
"I came out of primary 10 years ago and I have 2 children. I came last year and I sign up and this is now currently my second year. I came back because have 2 kids, I don't have an education and I see it that you can't get any job without a high school diploma and that the only way you can get forward with a high school diploma, so I decide to come back and work towards a high school diploma and that's what I am currently doing."

Nicole McDonald, Evening Division Programme
"Well you know education is the key right now and without your papers you can't get a sensible job. In order for the nation to grow education is the key and I think it's best for people that drop out of school to come back to school to better off themselves and their kids and their family."

Crystal Brown, Evening Division Programme
"Well I come back most of all because I have 2 children and everything is about my kids and I know that without an education it is hard to find a job. Right now I am going to study for my nursing course and with that and this diploma I am getting here at this evening division I can be an auxiliary nurse. Well other students, I would like to tell you guys that you should come back to school, it's the best thing to do because job is hard to find out here and without an education we won't say that you are noting but if you have an education right now you can be something and don't let anyone tell you that you are nothing or that you can't do this or you can't do that because if you believe in yourself you can do something."

After the visit at the Gwen Lizarraga High School The Ministry of Education also presented Unity Presbyterian School with Band Equipment and the newly launched Government Exercise Books.

Channel 7