Education in Belize - An Overview
Belize At A Glance
Belize is a wonderful country that is full of life and charm. It is located on the north eastern coast of Central America. The official language of the state is English which is perhaps the only one in the region. But Spanish is also a widely spoken language after English. It is surrounded by Mexico to the South and Guatemala in the west. The country is surrounded by the Caribbean sea in the east. It has a strong ties with the entire Latin America and Caribbean. Belize is a small country in area. It has a length of 290 km and a breadth of 110 km.
Belize has a very thin population which is approximately 334,297 as per the latest census. Also it has the lowest population density in the whole region i.e., Central America. Belize is a rich and diverse country. One can find a variety of flora fauna in any part of the small country. Its rich diversity is a great attraction for a huge number of tourists from around the world. A lot of tourists destinations such as the Belize reef, the blue hole, half mooncaye, glover’s reef atoll in the Belize reef, Belize city and Belmopan in the central coast and such other attraction including the remains of the Maya civilization act as the hub of tourism for the country.The second reason is due to the tropical climate of the nation as the average temperature ranges between 24 degrees to 27 degrees which makes it a lucrative tourist spot on the world map.
Education System in Belize
Despite facing a stiff challenges the country has a literacy rate of approximately 77% as per CIA World Factbook. Primary-secondary gross enrolment ratio from 2006-2012 as per United Nations Statistics Division is 90.6/97.5. Today the country has developed its education system overcoming the past
hurdles. Belize follows the British model in education. The government has made compulsory free primary education for all kids till the age of 14 years.
School Education System
There are total 213 preschools, 572 schools including government and government aided as well as private schools and 52 secondary schools as reported by MOE - Education Statistics 2012-2013. Belize has provision of compulsory free primary education for all kids till the age of 14 years.
The entire school life of an individual is divided in to 12 odd years. The first two years of the school is infant level. The next six years covers the primary level of the kid. The remaining four years come under secondary level. However, certain schools follow curriculum of the North American system of schooling. Here the respective kid has to spend the span of twelve years in twelve grades including the classes of 9,10,11,12 in the secondary level.
The high expenses towards the school education after attaining free education upto the age of 14 years has forced many parents to discontinue their ward’s education at many stages. Two out of every five Belizeans overall ever complete high school and repetitions and drrop out rates are high. As a result of this the government is taking efforts to eliminate the current difficulty such as the Belize Education Sector Reform Project (BESRP) to ensure that kids get their right to education but it might take some more time.
To overcome the quality issues in respect to education the private schools in Belize are successfully executing their service to the students. Well it is true that unlike government school private schools charge a hefty fees but ignoring the fact the quality of service is very good. Most of the well to do families now send their respective kids to the private ones. A majority of the public has opted the private schools.
Higher Education Opportunities
Belizeans had to depend on the neighbouring countries for access to higher education till 1990. But since then the situation has improved a lot. Today the government has taken every possible step to ensure better and quality education to the students eligible for higher education. The inauguration of University of Belize and Galen University is a step towards this initiative. This has shown positive results as a lot of public is benefited through this kind of government initiatives. Today the country has a sizeable number of higher educational centres across the country such as St John’s Junior Co Ed College, Corozal Junior College,Muffles College to name a few. Apart from these there are a couple of facilities education for the economically poor students in the form of evening colleges.
The tuition fees varies with the nationality of the students, Those are the citizens of the country benefit the most compared to other countries. The students of the developing countries have to pay more fees but in case of the students of the developed countries the fees are the highest.There is a flexible dressing code in these colleges.
Apart from this the government has taken initiatives for providing vocational training and education to the poor students who generally cannot afford the high expenses of the education. This has indeed benefited a lot of students and made them empowered to change their lives.