Students Demonstrate

Belizeans across the length and breadth of this country have begun feeling the economical pinch as increases have been implemented in almost every sector of society.  Electricity rates have taken a steep 16.7% increase, the cost of fuel remains extremely high, the cost of goods on the shelves have slowly gotten out of the reach of pockets of many families and as of recent, the cost of education at the university level skyrocketed.

Students at the University of Belize have seen a drastic increase in their registration fees as the Government of Belize has cancelled subsidies it used to give to the University.  Teachers are planning industrial action against the Government of Belize in efforts of getting their salary increments within the collective bargaining agreement.

Well, the students of Corozal Junior College today felt the proverbial pinch as the school’s administration would only accept full payments for matriculation to the school.  About 300 sixth form students united in a short demonstration minutes before noon today and walked out of the school’s compound.  According to reports by the students, the school would not accept or entertain partial payments for classes adding an additional financial burden on the students and their families.

Some of those students travelled to Orange Walk this afternoon and visited our news studio.  Martha Burtos is a Primary Education Major student at CJC and told us more about the situation.

“Basically last week supposedly we had to have our matriculation and registration day, so people who weren’t into the country they tried call the faculty of CJC and other students that had any financial problems they went to see the Dean of CJC and so were really neglected because they had so much student but they were a little bit bias because they hand pick the student that had a little amount of money that you owe or they didn’t even paid it and they got their report card and they got the matriculation but other people that had the same situation they didn’t had that chance because they were told that they had to pay something or pay everything or they cannot matriculate and people cannot take out the money like that and they went like very puzzled like how they can get their report car and I can’t get my and we have the same problem.”

But what is left to ponder on is what would happen should their matriculation not be given to them?  Burgos says that it would mean the end of the scholastic career for many of these students.

Elmer Cornejo - Reporter

“If you cannot get something to get back to school this coming Monday what is your thinking in terms of your collection of students?”

Martha Burgos-Primary Education Major

“Well, the things is that some have already gave up and they start working because there is nothing else to do but other student that have loans or people from abroad helping them this is the last year for the second year this is their last year but now that they have been neglected they have been this entire year doing nothing until they go back.”

The students call upon the Ministry of Education to provide assistance in this matter.  Unfortunately, if their concerns are not heard and an agreement is not met, these students would then add to the statistics of out of school youth in this country.  Worth mentioning is that youth ranging between the ages of 14 to 24 years compose 19.5% of the unemployment rate in Belize.  These statistics are reflected in the World Health Organizations website of 2012.