by Rudolph A. Neal
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 2, 2023
Informally, there is a mass exodus taking place within Belize. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Belizeans are exiting the country through the northern borders and are making their way to the great United States, seeking asylum. But apart from the informal exodus and the asylum seekers, there is a more inherent and systemic migration issue in Belize — one that can have a severe impact on the country’s economy and its overall development. Many teachers and nurses are clearing out of Belize and migrating to North America for greater employment and economic opportunities, and we can’t blame them!
History would recall that almost all the previous governments in the past have in some way or the other, been hard on teachers and stingy with nurses. It is an inherent fact that has become a systemic issue. Teachers are often used and manipulated by opposition parties who are seeking to form the government. When in opposition, they align themselves with the unions to scaffold them and poise them for victory. They pretend to be concerned about the teachers’ plight and struggles and once they form the government, they enact legislation to strangle and suppress teachers.
This current administration, less than 3 years into their stint as the central government, has crippled teachers and suppressed the nurses of this country. Teachers, who already toil laboriously and give much of themselves, were made to undergo a salary cut and increment freeze. Nurses are combatting the plight of meager wages, harsh working conditions, and a purported chronic shortage of supplies and lack of adequate resources and equipment. To utterly compound this already grim situation, the government is adamant that pension reform is a must and that teachers’ pension schemes will be revised, fueling much anger while provoking the ire of these noble servants to the point of frustration and giving up.
Many teachers and nurses—those who can—are clearing out of the country. North American countries like the United States and Canada, and other countries like the United Kingdom and Australia are offering teachers some impressive remuneration packages that are loaded with benefits, including housing, transport, and even pensions. Some of these offers even allow the participant to bring along their spouses and family, and they are offered sound immigration status and opportunities for schooling, employment, and a plethora of other opportunities. Unlike those countries, here at home, teachers and nurses are clamoring for decent wages, resources, and a fair remuneration package that can countenance inflation.
So, all things considered, you can’t blame them at all for taking these opportunities and clearing out of the country. The opportunities for teachers to work in a clean and conducive environment, with adequate resources, support, and scaffolding coupled with a padded remuneration package are cause to leave when your work and service are not valued and appreciated in your home country. Nurses can work in state-of-the-art hospitals with abundant resources and adequate equipment that allows them to live their dream and develop themselves. For Belize, however, this will lead to a serious issue of brain drain that once not adequately managed, can have serious social, economic, and developmental issues in the years to come. But in the meantime, given the plight that teachers and nurses face, one cannot blame them for clearing out. If you had the chance, perhaps you would clear out too!
Unchained Reflections Of A Liberal Pragmatist.