Hundreds of education stakeholders are gathering at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City on Tuesday and Wednesday this week for the Second Biennial Teacher Education Conference, as a part of Education Showcase 2014.
Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, Errol Miller, a highly respected academic of Jamaica, was the keynote speaker at the opening of the event on Tuesday morning.
Miller pointed to statistics which indicate that the level of professional training in Belize has only increased modestly at the primary level over the last ten years—from 52.1 to 56.4%.
Speaking with Amandala after the opening, Education Minister Patrick Faber said the conference is being held “merely to encourage the stakeholders, to give them that boost in the arm, to encourage them to press forward.”
“I am hoping it can give a shot in the arm, if ever we were fading in terms of our efforts,” Faber said.
He told Amandala that it is providing education stakeholders—ranging from members of Teaching Services Commission, members of boards of teacher education, union officials, representatives of various teacher education training institutions as well as students teachers—an opportunity to learn of more innovative thoughts and ideas, to get them motivated and inspired going forward.
“Teacher education is not only coming to a conference, it is not only participating in some kind of certificate or degree program; it is also something that should be done on a daily basis by teachers who feel inspired and motivated to do better in their classrooms,” Faber said, in an interview with Channel 7.
The Education Minister added that there are many more teachers who have done exemplary work—although there are those who need to be weeded out of the system. To those “quality teachers” whose names were not nominated for awards this year, he sends a “silent salute.”
Apart from presentations from leading education experts in Belize on topics such as bilingual education, the agenda for the 2-day conference features skills building workshops. Day 2 features a panel discussion which looks at raising the bar in education, as well as sessions on the role of one’s early childhood experience in the development of a professional knowledge base and the identity of the teacher.
The theme for the Education Showcase is, ‘Quality Teachers: Nurturing the Inherent Potential of Our Children.’
Of note is that top performing teachers from all levels of the education sector, including early childhood and special education, will be recognized in special awards ceremony planned for Thursday night.