Long Standing Literacy Project comes to an end in Belize Print E-mail
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Thursday, 10 October 2013 00:00

Handing over of equipment and booksA long standing Literacy Project came to an end recently with the handing over of equipment to the Belize Department of Education.

Handed over to the Ministry of Education’s District Centers were the final investments of net books and other related electronic equipment under a five year project, which in its lasting thrust, will assist Curriculum Officers in supporting teachers in the implementation of curricula.

In 2008, the Rotary Club of San Ignacio along with the Rotary Clubs of District 5370 in Alberta, Canada was awarded a Rotary Foundation 3-H (Health, Hunger and Humanitarian) Grant of US $325,000 to fund a Belize Literacy Program (BLP). That initial input in 2008 had grown to US $2,000,000.00 lately; bringing a multi dimension of benefits to a wide number of Primary Schools around Belize.

The general goals of the BLP were to improve student performance in primary schools and to reduce the drop-out rates. Money was raised by hard working Rotarians in Alberta, Canada to ensure that the objectives of the BLP were achieved.

Since 2008, teams of teachers from Canada have come to Belize to give intensive courses in literacy, developing a core of master teachers in the literacy area. Belizean educators have also visited Canada to enhance their education under the BLP.

While the Primary Mathematics and Science curricula were revised under the BLP, a primary focus was the integration of technology in the classroom. Initially, 400 computers were provided to schools across Belize and then six schools were selected to be pilot schools; equipped with computer labs and with the additional benefit of internet connection. These lucky schools were the Louisiana Government School in Orange Walk, the Mary Hill School in Corozal, the Peter Claver School in Punta Gorda, the Salvation Army School in Belize City, the Faith Nazarene School in San Ignacio and the Christ the King Primary School in Dangriga. Since then, net books and LCD Projectors have been bought and given to these schools under the Belize Literacy Project.

Much has been achieved under the BLP but work will have to continue to support children in their early education.

“I think that a lot of emphasis has to be placed on reading education and reading literacy development from pre-school and math development too, from the very early years,” says Doctor Eve Aird, who is the current President of the Rotary Club of San Ignacio, and has been at the forefront of the BLP along with partners at the Ministry of Education.

“We have to focus on how children learn to read, how they learn to write, how they use language; similarly with math, a lot of emphasis has to be placed in teacher training, on teachers learning to teach reading and math and science, those are very specialized skills.”

While the country-wide project for the Belize Literacy Project, sponsored by Rotarians in Canada has met a new horizon, there is now fresh evidence that the Belize-Canada relationship will continue. As a result of BLP, there is now an active “Adopt-a-school” program in which Rotary Clubs in Alberta are associating with Clubs in Belize to support school renovations, the acquiring of teaching-learning supplies and the development of libraries.