Features — 09 February 2016 — by Johnelle McKenzie
Raising the bar of excellence in education

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Feb. 5, 2016–There are presently far more trained teachers than there were eight years ago and those numbers are expected to increase since the Ministry of Education is making it mandatory that teachers possess a full license in order to teach in the classroom, Hon. Patrick Faber said at a press conference at the Belize Biltmore Plaza on February 3.

Many teachers who did not have a full license were given a provisional license and numerous opportunities and incentives to further their education were provided in order to facilitate their efforts to get a full license; therefore, by 2017 when the provisional licenses expire those teachers are expected to have the necessary qualifications to obtain a full license, Faber said.

The Ministry, in Faber’s view, is simply enforcing what the Education Training Act says:

Section 29:7, in reference to teachers who are not fully trained and licensed, states that “said teacher in possession of a license other than a full license shall not be eligible for temporary employment on probation as a prerequisite for appointment but shall be eligible for temporary employment for a period not exceeding five calendar years to allow the teacher to acquire the necessary qualifications for a full license in accordance with this act and rules made under this act.”

Also, Section 29:9 states that “a teacher who fails to acquire the necessary qualifications for a full license within the period prescribed in this section shall have his services terminated and that teacher shall not be eligible for further employment at any school or institution unless or until he acquires at his own expense the necessary qualifications for a full license.”

There are approximately 500 teachers at the primary level and 800 teachers at the high school level who will likely lose their job, Faber said.

Percentage-of-Trained-Teach

Keisha Young, General Secretary of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), said those figures may be smaller with the installation of the special permit.

The special permit will be granted to teachers who have not met the requirement for a full license, but hold a provisional license that will expire by June 2017, Faber said.

The Ministry of Education believes that the impact which the exit of so many teachers from their posts might have on the educational system will be offset by the entry of numerous persons “who are coming out of trained institutions who are qualified to step into those positions”; however, Young added that the BNTU will fight for those teachers who are in the pipeline.

Faber spoke of other improvements to the education system. “We will provide for greater accountability of schools and managing authority for the performance of their schools by allowing temporary insertion of new management to turn around failing schools. We will be amending the national accreditation act to create an independent, quality assurance and qualifications authority that will embody such functions as school inspection at the pre-primary, primary and secondary levels, accreditation at the tertiary level, and the administration of a national qualification framework as is currently being finalized,” he said.

Faber spoke of other measures that have been implemented since 2008 such as efforts to ensure that children entering the educational system at the pre-school level are able to make a strong start; initiatives to reduce barriers and increase access to education which is being achieved by providing a $300 subsidy to students in high school; and finally efforts at “raising the bar, focusing on improving student achievement and quality assurance.”

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