Ministry of Education explains why Rhaburn Ridge school was closed Print E-mail
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Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports views with grave concern the  continued operation of the Hope SDA Christian Academy, located in the  village of Rhaburn Ridge in the Belize District despite the fact that approval of a licence to operate the school was not granted.

 In July, 2012 the school Management of the Belize Union of Seventh Day Adventists submitted an application for a licence to operate a school in the village of Rhaburn Ridge in the Belize District. The Education Rules, 2000 (Rule 11 (1)) requires that an application for a licence to operate a school be submitted 16 months prior to the proposed opening of the school.

 The application was referred to the Belize District Education Council for review and recommendation as required by the Education Rules.

 The District Education Council conducted its review of the application and indicated that:

• the village of Rhaburn Ridge was only about 10 miles from Biscayne Government School
• The Ministry of Education provided school transportation for the small number of students from Rhaburn Ridge to the Biscayne Government School
• There are not enough children between ages 5 and 14 in the area to justify the establishment of a new school in that location.
• The Adventist Mission previously had a school in MayPen which was eventually closed because of a continuous decrease in population.  Approximately 12 students are transported daily from MayPen to Biscayne Government School.
• The application was not in alignment with the Ministry’s efforts to reduce the number of small schools that are in relatively close proximity to each other. Biscayne Government is serving all the communities within a ten mile-radius.

Thus in August, 2013 the application for a licence to operate the school was denied. While the review by the District Education Council did take some time the prospective proprietors proceeded to construct the school building shortly  after the application was submitted and continued to make preparations to open the school in September 2013 – without obtaining proper authorization from the Ministry of Education.

The SDA Management submitted an appeal against the denial of the licence in September 2013. However, the school continued to operate  without a licence in violation of Rule 19 of the Education Rules, 2000.

On January 10th, 2014 the SDA Manager was informed in a meeting with  the Senior Management that the school was operating in violation of the Education Act and Rules.

The appeal was referred to District Education Council for its review and on February 10, 2014 the District Council reiterated its position that the refusal of the licence to operate a primary school at Rhaburn Ridge be upheld. However the council further recommended that the matter be referred to the National Council for Education for arbitration in accordance with Rule 18 of the Education Rules, 2000.

The matter was then referred to the NCE on February 13, 2014 and the SDA Management was so advised and was also reminded that the continued operation of the school without a licence to operate, notwithstanding the appeal and arbitration process, is a violation of the relevant provisions of the Education and Training Act, 2010 and the Education Rules 2000.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in the exercise of its regulatory authority – in accordance with sections 3 and 35 of the Education and Training Act, 2010 is mandated to ensure that all persons or  entities intending to establish an educational institution adhere to the goals and policies of the Ministry and to the provisions of the Education and Training, 2010, the Education Rules, 2000 and the Education (Amendment)  Rules, 2012.

The current efforts of the Ministry to rationalize the location of schools, and to reduce the proliferation of small schools in proximity to each other in a systematic way are completely undermined where denominational managements and other organizations proceed with the construction and establishment of new schools in an unregulated way and without prior consultation with the Ministry in regard to the Ministry’s goals and policies or without regard to where might be priority areas that such schools could be established.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, therefore requires that the Hope SDA Christian Academy cease operations forthwith pending the completion of the arbitration process which has been initiated.