MOE moving ahead with School Amalgamations Print E-mail
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Thursday, 21 July 2011 00:00

Hon. Patrick Faber in consultation meeting in Double Head Cabbage. The Ministry of Education is moving ahead with the amalgamation of schools in the Belize River Valley Area. Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber on Saturday July 16th, met with teachers and parents of communities in the River Valley area to explain the process of amalgamation.

Under the current system in the area there are 8 schools which serve just over 300 students. The ministry intends to turn these 8 schools into a single institution called the Belize Rural Primary School. Consultations to this end began a couple of weeks before and by and large the residents were receptive to the idea. On Saturday the minister returned to flesh out the plan of amalgamation and inform the residents how it would work.

He explained that of the 8 schools in the area, 3 are run by the Roman Catholics, 3 by Anglicans and 2 are run by the Mennonite mission. Under the new structure 7 schools will be amalgamated under one administration that would be run by a board of directors with representation from all the denominations.Hon. Faber said that while 7 of the schools are on board there is still discussion that needs to take place with the Mennonite school at Scotland Halfmoon to see if they would merge with the other existing Mennonite school in Isabella Bank or if they will choose to remain as they are.

Outside of the Mennonite schools the process will proceed with the other 7 schools where the school will be divided into lower middle and upper divisions. Infant schools will be located at Rancho Dolores and Flowers Bank. The middle division will be at Bermudian Landing and the upper division will be at Double Head Cabbage village. Additionally the 19 teachers who presently teach at the schools will continue to teach in the new school.

Under the new arrangement transportation will be provided from all villages to the school. A feeding program will also be implemented so that children who are transported from the villages do not have to go home for a healthy meal. This is also in keeping with the government’s goal of implementing a nationwide school feeding program. These programs will be funded through the existing budget in the Ministry of Education which will be saving monies since it will no longer be transporting students to Burrell Boom or High School students to Belize City. The Minister maintains that both primary and secondary education is available in the area and if parents wish that their children attend other schools, the cost of transportation should be borne by the parents and not government.

In an effort to minimize expenses in the upcoming year, Hon. Faber said that the Ministry of Education would be taking on the cost of registration for the new school year provided that parents register their children during the period set up by the ministry. Uniforms will also not be a concern since returning students will be allowed to use the uniforms from the schools they attended the previous year.

As the ministry moves with amalgamation, Hon. Patrick Faber commented that the process is one that is necessary for a better education system that will run more efficiently. Already there has been the amalgamation of schools in the Hope Creek area of the Stann Creek district as well as the Democracia and Mahogany Heights area. Both these have gone well and the River Valley area said Minister Faber will be no different.

Even as the ministry goes through the process, there are plans in place that will ensure that when schools are constructed they are done so at the proper location. The ministry is undergoing a school mapping exercise where they are able to determine where schools are located and the number of people living in certain areas in  order to better plan for the construction of schools. The amalgamation process then will also move in line with the school mapping exercise.