“Education empowers a nation,” boasts the University of Belize. However, it appears that this truism has been rejected by an increasing number of Belizeans. Incredibly, people with degrees are now being looked upon with scorn, the phrase “degree but no temperature” giving expression to that contempt.
Just about every morning the talk shows are swamped by Belizeans making the case about common sense and deploring “deh one with degree.” Common sense has its place, but surely it cannot take the place of a formal education.
Common sense tells us that a plane weighing 100,000 pounds cannot fly, but science makes it fly. Common sense also tells us that a ship weighing 50,000 tons cannot float, but science makes it float.
I think one would be hard pressed to find a single country that has developed on the back of common sense. Educated people are the drivers of development, thus education has to be the central plank of any development strategy for a country such as Belize.
Unfortunately education, like business in Belize, has been severely distorted—a victim of political expediency! Graduation season is once more upon us and all over Belize guest speakers will be celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates even as they remind the rest of us that education is the key. What the graduates will not hear is that their education, their key, opens no doors in Belize. They will realize this fact in less than six months after graduation—after the pomp and circumstance has ended. They will realize that the role of education as a means of alleviating poverty has been severely undermined by the political games being played in Belize.
How can we continue to tell our children that education is important, and that they should stay in school, when they see people who are less qualified than their parents being ushered into high public office? Their sole qualification? The right political hue!
How can we continue to tell our children that education is the key when they see Cabinet members with barely a primary school certificate amassing great wealth right before their very eyes?
Since our independence a great deal of wrong has been done to us and yes, by some very educated people, but this cannot be the reason for us to abandon education as the means to personal as well as national development.
The great irony of our democracy is that we have a choice: incompetence or corruption. Choose wisely, my friend!
Major Lloyd Jones (R)