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Owen Morrison speaks out on Technical

LettersOwen Morrison speaks out on Technical

Well, I am one of those who is stepping up at this time. (Like the saying says, ?better late than never?).

I fully support all the sentiments you have included in your article. As you are aware, I am one of Belize Technical College?s (BTC) longest serving teacher/principals, dating back to the 1950?s, and continuing up to the present time (just completed lecturing in a summer course in ?Genetics and Molecular Biology? for the University of Belize from June 12?July 24, 2004 at the old BTC campus).

I feel sad, even bitter at times, to see that BTC is no more. An institution that was Government?s only technical institution in the country; a showcase for over fifty years, an institution that was second to none in the entire English speaking Caribbean. The institution had been the only tertiary level institution where poor people in this country were able to afford a decent, relevant and alternative education in the Arts, Science and Technology fields.

B.T.C. was government/state owned. By that it meant that BTC was owned by the people of Belize. The people in Belize had to foot the entire cost of running the college.

During the late eighties and continuing right up into the nineties, BTC?s development had been ?extremely slow and even retrogressive.? BTC was reaching its zenith in the eighties, when a lot of political and economical pressure was coming down on the college from Belmopan. Very little or no capital funding was coming from Government to keep the college progressive and competitive.

There were very powerful elements (some political, some religious, etc.) that were determined to see the demise of Technical. Apparently, the die was cast in the early nineties, that Technical would have to go. And even though there were two changes of government in the nineties, nothing concrete was done to give Technical the kind of support she needed.

Perhaps you can recall that while I was the Political Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education from 1993 to 1998, I had penned an article in your issue of Amandala for October 27, 1996, under the caption, ?Belize Technical College ? Becoming an ?Antique? Institution??

Quoting from that article, I had written, ?BTC?s lack of support also rose out of the Ministries of Education and Finance, through incompetence and couldn?t care less attitude of some Permanent Secretaries (PS?s) and Heads of Department (HOD?s). Because BTC was not a department of the Ministry of Education, many silly bureaucratic nonsense carried out in the Ministries, caused the college to experience retrogression. As a matter of fact, some of the bureaucrats in these ministries were outrightly jealous and grudgeful of BTC?s progress and success in those days.?

I am convinced that it was a grave mistake to dismantle Technical and allow her to be absorbed into a university setting. One has to realize that there is a big distinction between a technical institution and a university.

The Belize Technical College, like any other technical institution, was originally conceived to meet the needs of Belize and was committed to the training and development of craftsmen and technicians in various disciplines. It has provided a base for further development training in the Natural and Social Sciences, and was providing professional services to the public and private sectors of Belize.

On the other hand, the University of Belize (formerly University College of Belize ?UCB) had been established to offer general degree programs in the Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences. A developing country like ours needs and will continue to need its own Technical College to provide the relevant training to fill positions that do not require Bachelor?s degrees. In short, organizations, public or private sector, will require the technically trained personnel more often than the ?degree? ones.

It is not too late to turn back ?the hands of time?. A BTC must be given very serious consideration for its resurrection.

The Technical is still a ?landmark?. It is part of Belize?s history (students from every ?nook and cranny? of the country have passed through Technical ? full-time/part-time). It is an affront and disrespect to these many talented students to lose their beloved college, their alma mater.

BTC is ?history by itself? (over 52 years old) dating back to early 1951, when it was constructed in the Freetown area which was all mangrove and where the city limits of the north side ended at the corner of Freetown Road and Mapp Street. (There were no SJC, Pallotti, EP Yorke, Teachers College, Nazarene in the area at that time.

Technical is ?sentimental? for the thousands of students (especially the first intake of boys and girls in January 1952) the many teachers, past Principals, Vice Principals, support staff, parents, guardians of students who supported BTC during those 50 odd years. Remember the best sports programs that BTC provided, especially for poor and deprived students throughout Belize who would not have afforded a secondary education were it not for Technical; BTC?s very famous and very popular Variety Shows, where one saw some of Belize?s most talented artists in dramas, comedy, dance, singing, etc.

As I pointed out above, it is not too late to restart (resurrect) the Technical.

The original building (the biggest and most important landmark of the college), is still standing there intact. And now that UB is moving out, the classrooms, labs, workshops, library, offices, etc. are still there.

I appeal to the Government, especially to Minister Fonseca, the Minister of Education (whose constituency BTC is part of), supporters and friends of Technical to give serious consideration to the above.


(Signed) Owen Morrison

Former Teacher/Principal

Belize Technical College

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