By Colin Hyde
The Ministry of Education has taken to the airwaves to announce a new approach to education in Belize, and big props are due, but I am very disappointed that they missed in a number of key areas. In April the Minister of Education spoke of fundamental reform in the curriculum, which he said was “absolutely overloaded.” The minister got many points when he said that education in Belize must be tied to national and economic development, that our education system should be about “educating our people to be a part of growing Belize, of developing Belize, and equipping them with the skills, the knowledge, the information, the values, the attitudes they need to be effective participants in the development of Belize.”
This month concrete decisions were announced about the number of subjects to be taught in schools — they are to be reduced; and learning outcomes, they are being reduced by around 30%, and there’s also talk about suspension of certain tests. Most Belizeans are for more concentration on core subjects, and we can expect better results in these areas if the study time of students is less diluted. I’m not sure I understand the story about less testing. What I have is that competence will be determined through minor testing, not BIG ones.
Haha, I never got a B where I was good enough for an A. When I scraped by, it’s because I got every ounce that was within my little brains. I had a standard routine. First thing, I put in my name and other particulars, and then I answered the easy questions. I then dedicated 5 minutes to doing nada, first, looking out the window, and toward the end of my break I took a defiant snooze on my desk. What the heck, I knew I couldn’t answer all the questions anyway. Hmm, there are people who are a wreck on examination day. The simple solution to that is to allow people who fail to do the test again.
I congratulate the MOE for their better focus, and questioning things that might be in waters too deep for me it will take some explaining to get me to understand any reduction in BIG testing. In sports you lose interest if it’s practice, practice, practice, and no BIG games. I think the authorities might want to approach the test results in a different way, or they might want to revise the way they test, not do away with the BIG ones.
Before I get on with my bahs, this exercise at the MOE, it is being run by people who excelled in the system, and there’s little or no input from the people who were stymied by it. I guess that is the way of the world. To the winners go the spoils.
In the nigh 20 years I’ve been allowed this column, once only have I got in the face of the people who make decisions in our country. I was viciously attacked from many corners. I prefer to be tempered, I don’t like to be harsh or rude, but there’s only one way to get a response from the big people. You have to get in their face. But, but you can’t do that. It’s our infamous catch-22. Who beg noh wahn get, who noh beg noh want.
Keeping it as nice as I can, my first bah – I don’t know how we think tank on education and we ignore co-ed, a direct disaster for boys, an indirect disaster for girls; my second bah: it’s great to insist that students pass before they advance a grade, but MOE needs a better solution; my third bah: there was no mention of discipline.
Holy Redeemer School (HRS) had it right when I was a child. Up to standard one, school was co-ed. In standard two you split up, to girls HRS and boys HRS. I don’t know why they changed that. HRS boys went on to all-boys SJC, and HRS girls went on to all-girls St. Catherine’s.
I understand the big argument for co-ed, that it’s good for culturing. But it’s bad for education. If we want to culture, we can have more parties, and co-ed sports, and other extracurricular activities where the sexes meet. I’ll get into trouble if I say anymore here, so I’ll just stay with results. Girls are beating the pants off boys in school because many little boys will not compete with girls in the intellectual field. We’ll not allow them to whip us in physical games, but they can have all the good grades. Co-ed is an environment that makes boys fail, and when boys fail they drag girls down with them down the road.
When it comes to children who fail, we must remember that children belong with their age group. Precocious children get into developmental trouble when they are placed in classes with older children/youth. Children who repeat more than one class in primary school need to go to one that has classes for their age group.
Money is always an issue, but in villages it shouldn’t cost much to build a big “thatch” for 14 and 15-year-olds who don’t qualify for high school. One big “thatch” could work for older students from 5 or more villages in my area – Roaring Creek, Camalote, Teakettle, Ontario, and Blackman. Without all the age pressure created by mixing old with young, students who didn’t make the grade should thrive if they get one good veteran maestro who cares.
I’ll leave the critical discipline for now, because that deserves an entire page.
Louis W. sets his binoculars on gambling
Few forget when organized gambling entered Belize to break up our pitipat games. How can anyone forget when that big letdown Sedi stood on the sidelines and said the winner will be the one who puts up the better fight? The churches and their friends came out, but they didn’t stand a chance against organized gambling, because our leaders had decided that tourism would become our country’s horse to ride.
Get the sense, the website MyBelize.net says, “Belize has had a close relationship with gambling for many years. In 2004 it legalized online gambling – becoming one of the first countries in the world to do so. And it couldn’t have picked a better time – as this is when online gambling really started to take off. It’s now worth around $60 billion on a global scale – and going from strength to strength in our increasingly connected digital era.”
Our country has been onboard with organized gambling long before 2004, and I’m talking back in the last century. I think Louis, who believes that fear of eternal damnation is not enough to control people, was still into ruining church music when the first one armed bandit appeared.
Before going on, I have to get this in. Tracy said that PUP divisions are getting more financial assistance than UDP ones. Dolores was out for the last House meeting. She has to answer Tracy, and when she does, I pray she will say it ain’t so.
Back to rolling the dice: it’s a serious vice, yes, but it’s built into human DNA, so there’s no stopping it. Every decision we make in this world is a gamble. I’ll end this piece with a tale of two maternal uncles and their polar difference on gambling.
One uncle hated gambling so much he pulled a deadly weapon on a man for a single cent. The way that story goes, the man insisted on betting, if even for a centavo; my uncle yielded, he won, and the gambling fiend thought the amount too trivial and he refused to pay. The other uncle loved gambling, and no one could get him to stop. He missed a ship because he wouldn’t leave a dice game, and the ship that left him went down at sea.