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Some thoughts from the President of the University of Belize Print E-mail
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Thursday, 28 November 2013 00:00

The President of the University of Belize has made known some of his thoughts on the issue of education in Belize and the Region. Dr. Cary Fraser recently met with main advocate Mrs. Maria Eugenia Paniagua in Belmopan for a brief discussion on a proposed Central American Educational Policy PEC that seeks to provide all Central Americans with at least nine years of basic education and bring educational excellence to the Region.

PEC has the endorsement of the Council of Ministers of Education of the member countries of the Central American Integration System SICA. This Regional Strategy also has the support of the Council of Ministers of Education, Summit of Presidents and Heads of State within SICA.

“Ultimately we should be thinking about 12 years of compulsory schooling, everyone should be legally required to be in school until they are 18; as the World has become increasingly technologically complex, it will be important for students before the age of 18 to be exposed to a level of knowledge that will allow them to enter a World that is so technologically complex that they will be left behind if they are out of school without the adequate level of preparation,” said Dr. Cary Fraser, at a recent meeting at the University of Belize, bringing together Education Officials and the supporters of PEC.

Another reason for the extended schooling, “In Central America there is increasing population growth and increasingly towards younger population, we have to think about an education policy that goes beyond 2012, think to 2040, but the most important part of this is that Central America is a Region which has been caught between North America, Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela and Brazil, it is very interesting; all the Central American Countries are surrounded by societies that are in rapid mode of transformation based on growth of new technology.”

A different route awaits, “If Central America does not attempt to keep pace to what is happening in these advanced societies, Central America will remain trapped by the predicament of poverty, high population growth rates and insufficient levels of economic growth,” continued Dr. Cary Fraser.

It is Dr. Cary Fraser’s belief that the educational system can help to reverse the structural problems of poverty. He maintains that for both Belize and the wider Central American Region, education should be transformative at the individual and social levels.

“But transformation without a strategy and without a plan can often get in the wrong concept of transformation, a transformation for migration, that is you train people beyond the level in which the societies are functioning and there is no strategy for keeping people within the Region, that is something that has happened across the entire Caribbean and is likely to happen in Central America as we expand educational opportunities.”

Thus; the proposed Central American Educational Policy’s strategic actions will seek to promote the linguistic, math, scientific and technological training in the population over 15 years-old. The recent meeting by SICA representatives with Belize’s education officials in Belmopan marks a starting point to the planning of education for citizens in the Region to 2021.

Dr. Cary Fraser is now on leave from the University of Belize and will be assisted by interim provost Dr. Wilmer Wright.