Belize: Embracing Change in Education
by Gustavo Ramirez, Guidance Counselor / Education Consultant /
Recently, I referred to the United States of America’s report, “A Nation at Risk”, published over 30 years ago by that country’s Education Department to urge an overhaul of how and what their young people were being taught in schools. In June of this year, Belize’s Education Department released a Report of the 2013 PSE Results of Proficiency Examinations for Primary School students. The Results showed Primary school students in Belize lagging far behind where they should be in Education, especially in areas of Reading (English) and Math. Both Reports were “wake-up calls” for each country. In my previous Blog for July of this year I further encourage Education policymakers in Belize to examine non-British and non-Caribbean models of 21st Century successful schools and successful students, for example, Finland.
I am thrilled to note that educators (teachers) in Belize, with fighting armor on, now seem poised in a genuine “let us embrace change” mode. Church and government policymakers of Education in Belize may not want to consider changing how and what young Belizeans should be learning; nevertheless, many teachers (as witnessed through increasing daily posts on social media Internet networks) now seem ready to address the need to strengthen and revitalize Belize’s Education system -- by accepting and embracing change! These brave educators/teachers in Belize appear ready to “take the first steps” on the very long and difficult journey to change, improve, and strengthen our school systems throughout the country.
I wholeheartedly applaud, encourage, and endorse each and every teacher in Belize who today is embracing technology to be able to communicate with the many other educators throughout (and beyond) our jewel. Technology to the Rescue! Many teachers appear quite willing and ready now to take some challenging initiatives that so desperately need to be taken from within our Education systems -- from the classroom to the staff room Each day, more and more teachers in Belize continue to communicate openly through the social media network on the internet: Facebook, Chat rooms, and Education Reform sites. Throughout these sites, many teachers (my heroes!) are now openly expressing and explaining their many individual and urgent needs in the classroom that so many other Education stakeholders continue to ignore. Many of these teachers are also now making public their own ideas and suggestions for improving schools, trying new teaching methods in the classrooms, and introducing new methods of learning. I fully and enthusiastically salute the teachers in Belize who, perhaps unknowingly, are showing the world the powerful truth behind that age-old adage: “Never say never!” Without a doubt, thousands of our young students throughout Belize will benefit from the many actions that our teachers have commenced to experiment and introduce on the much-needed journey of change in Belize’s Education systems.
Some teachers have even openly expressed a desire to want to create an Education Symposium in Belize to address topics including:
- Foundation, principles, and importance of using a curriculum (curriculum development),
- Results (on teachers and students) of political interference,
- Opportunities (lack of) for adequate teacher training (Primary and Secondary schools),
- Meeting the urgent needs of local businesses, i.e. fully training and preparing students to be ready to enter the workplace,
- Specific Education topics relevant to Belize
I see this new movement as fully headed in one direction only: success for teachers, for students, and for the entire nation. I certainly and wholeheartedly encourage the many Primary and Secondary school teachers in Belize who are working enthusiastically to keep spreading the spark of their new movement for much-needed school reform throughout our jewel.