The Ministry of Education launched a pilot project last year involving Belizean Studies, where first form teachers from eleven secondary schools across the Jewel were tasked to teach the subject which encompasses an integrated method to highlight, understand and learn more about Belize and its connections. While that pilot project has come to an end, yesterday the Ministry held a seminar in Belize City with the goal of evaluating the results of the trial and to officially launch its integration into the educational curriculum in high schools across the board.
John Newport – Director, QADS
“Belizean studies is not Belizean history and is not Geography and is not Politics or economics it is fact a combination of all of those Social Studies and Science disciplines so for example the first pilot that we have completed probably about a third of the time was what you would traditionally think of it as history, some of it is Environmental Studies some of it was Development, some of it was more Human based identity particularly what it is to be Belizean and culture and so on, so it is an integrated approach to trying to understand who we are and the place that we live in. One other thing that we learnt was we had to be careful not to be too ambitious, when you Belizean Studies are we going to study our country certainly you re talking about a huge topic and the more that what it is that we study Belize the more we realize there is a lot of study and so we had to kind of focus on what the teachers and students are considering to be the most important centered topics and then looking at ok spreading the content over the whole four years of high school they won’t know everything what is it about Belize but they would know a lot.”
A complete roll out of the Belizean studies nationwide is scheduled to kick off in August and will be supported by training for teachers.
John Newport – Director, QADS
“The intension is that every high school student in first form in every single school in the country will be studying Belizean Studies from August and then thereafter they would follow to second form and up to fourth form. We are providing the curriculum and the curriculum in some depth and we are supporting that with some teacher training and a public website which is www.belizeanstudies.com which anybody can look at and for example through the pilot we are tracking how many teachers and how many students using the website and that is the main way we are currently providing information and in addition to that we are seeing local writer beginning to produce materials to Belizean Studies and we have some other international publishers coming to say they are interested in providing text books for Belizean Studies and so the ministry itself they aren’t going to write the book, the existence of Belizean Studies is generating new energy in writing about this country and so even though in august we will not have all the text books we need it will happen fairly quickly.”
Newport added that the Ministry is currently exploring avenues to ensure that fourth form students are able to sit the Social Studies CSEC paper despite undertaking Belizean studies.
John Newport – Director, QADS,
“In first and second form in the core curriculum which is eight subjects which the ministry wants every school to deliver then there will not be Social Studies there will be Belizean Studies. Schools are free to have set for History or Geography lesson in addition to Belizean Studies but Belizean Studies is the mandatory subject as we go through third and fourth form we are working with the teachers and the examination board to make sure that if a student does Belizean Studies for four years they should still be able to sit the integrated Social Studies CSEC not the Caribbean History, not the Caribbean geography and the reason for that for example the Caribbean History syllabus have some unit which are really focused on what happened on the island territories of the Caribbean but which are not related to Belize.”
As previously mentioned, the Ministry will be providing information on the topic of Belize Studies through a public website.