11,000 children not in primary school

Posted By: Marty

11,000 children not in primary school - 05/12/10 02:37 PM

Net enrollment
1991: 94%
2002: 97.5%
2004: 95.2%
(Source: UN Stats)
Universal education – we’ve heard a lot of talk about it, but the reality today is that the number of children of primary school age who should be enrolled and in classes has been dropping steadily over the last six to eight years. That is according to the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education, David Leacock.
Minister of Education Patrick Faber commented at the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Belize National Library Service and Information Systems (BNLSIS) on Friday, May 7, “There are about 11,000 children who should be in primary school who are not in primary school today. That is shocking!”
Faber said that when he heard the stats in a recent meeting, he had to leave the room for 10 minutes to regain his composure.
“We have become so complacent and we believe it to be satisfactory. And it is not!” he lamented.
Some have asked, said Minister Faber, if these statistics don’t embarrass the Government? “I make it plain so that we can understand that it is all of our business to fix what is wrong with education in this country,” he furthermore commented.
The primary school enrollment rate is about 83% now, whereas it was once in the 90’s, Faber said.
He noted that one of the Millennium Development Goals is to achieve 100% primary school access by 2015.
“There was a point when we used to be able to boast about the system doing well particularly at the primary level,” Faber recollected.
A UNICEF summary sheet on Belize claims that the primary school net enrolment/attendance between 2003 and 2008 was 97%. Leacock elaborated when we spoke with him today, Monday, May 10, that this net percentage does not take into account the absolute numbers. “Within the last six, seven, eight years there has been a steady decline,” said Leacock, noting that Belize has not kept apace with the growing demand for seats in the classroom.
“Even though we are enrolling more students, as percentage of school-age population, that percentage has been declining,” he added.
Asked whether the 11,000 children not in school are mostly from the rural or urban parts of Belize, the CEO said he was not certain, but noted that there tends to be less education coverage in rural Belize. He also did not have on hand the information to detail which specific locations had the most children out of school.
Amandala asked: What is the Ministry’s immediate plan to address the problem? “We have to try and build more schools,” Leacock responded.
He said that there are also issues with the repetition and the drop-out rates.
“In some cases, it may be that they [the children not currently in school] have never been to school,” he elaborated.
A Belmopan primary school opened only last October (2009) is “bursting at the seams,” he told us. That school is Kuxlin Ha Government School in Maya Mopan/Belmopan City. “Some of the children going for the first time are ages nine and ten,” Leacock shared, citing one of the problems as the distance between their homes and school.
Of note is that only a portion of the 6,500 primary school students who sat the Primary School Examinations recently will transition on to secondary school.

Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/12/10 04:40 PM

Now THIS is something we should all be up in arms about. Without education what are these people to do in the world?
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/12/10 04:46 PM

There are not enough Primary (elementary) school places to accommodate the children here in San Pedro. A lot of kids are on the street because there is no option open to them.
Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/12/10 05:26 PM

Indeed, and the remedy won't be arrived at overnight. But we should be recognising this as a really major problem that we must find a solution to. No school now = more crime later (or even now - idle hands make mischief). It should be a topic as much on everyone's lips as crime and neighbourhood watches - but it isn't.
Posted By: HOT_Card

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/12/10 08:49 PM

This is one of the few times that I totally agree with Peter. And sadly some of the "kids" that have not been to, or have had limited access to school, are already parents themselves. A downward spiral that will certainly come back and bite us in years to come.
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/12/10 09:17 PM

I do disagree that Peter said that this doesn't appear to be a hot topic.

It has been for quite some time (especially amongst the parents) and this is why the Holy Cross was granted permission to open its doors even though it wasn't in an ideal location. Holy Cross is filled to capacity and cannot accommodate all of the applicants. The RC school has been filled to capacity for years. Now it seems that the SP High School may not be able to accommodate all of the kids that have applied for next year.

This is a crisis situation. And the figures in the first post don't even include the number of immigrant/illegal kids.

Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/12/10 09:19 PM

Good, Marie. What in practice can we do about it? It will probably have to be a small beginning. Lobby government perhaps, but what else? Do we know how many kids of school age aren't in school on Ambergris Caye?
Posted By: HOT_Card

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/12/10 11:37 PM

Isn't there supposed to be a census going on at the moment. Does that include questions on kids/schools? If it does then it would at least help identify the size of the current problem, and more important how that will grow in just a few years with the current number of infants we already have. There are some underlying issues here that unfortunately are not going to change any time soon - and as always the answer will come down to funding.
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/13/10 12:00 AM

Yes the census should start today. Of course we need a hospital as well as a few new schools. Hopefully we will get some fairly accurate numbers out of the poll.

Estimates for population of island run around 22,000 full time residents. The last census has us pegged around 4,500 10 years ago.

Government are supposed to use the data to plan budgets and capital expenditure....
Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/13/10 12:20 AM

I hope they're including all people who live here, not just Belizean citizens.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/13/10 12:36 AM

But by now certainly you are a citizen..right Peter?
Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/13/10 02:14 AM

Does that matter?
Posted By: Ernie B

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/13/10 03:07 AM

This only supports my position that money could be better spent on classrooms and education rather than sending ONE kid to a music school. I didnt get a response as to how much it would cost to build a road to San Mateo. 11,000 kids out of school because of the lack of class rooms. Think about it.

BTW, this is NOT about Derrick
Posted By: seashell

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/13/10 06:44 AM

If it is believed that there are 22,000 people resident on the island and 11,000 of them are kids NOT in school, does this mean that the island is chock-a-block with children and short on working adults?
Posted By: Peter Jones

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/13/10 07:17 AM

No, it's not 11,000 uneducated kids on the island but in the whole of Belize. I don't know what the figure is for the island alone, but it has been suggested that it would be very low.

I do agree that given the two options it is more important to get the majority an education grounding than to advance one individual. But we shouldn't and probably don't have to make that stark choice. Enabling one talented individual from a deprived background to fulfil his potential is important for the others. It shows them what can be achieved and gives them, if not a target then at least a realistic aspiration for their own lives.

Education is a strange commodity. Many people in receipt of it resent it or certainly do not appreciate it at the time, yet afterwards they do realise its value and wish they could have had more of it. This is why most civilised countries make education compulsory - because they know that kids will realise what they have missed too late to do anything about it. IMO it is crucial that juniors do get an adequate and inspiring education.
Posted By: Keller

Re: 11,000 children not in primary school - 05/13/10 11:42 AM

Who determines or how is it determined that some get to go to school while others don't? Are there classrooms available on weekends?
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