Belize

Ashley Reeves

Introduction of Belize:

Belize_map_2.jpg




Belize is located in Central America at the southern end of the Yucatan peninsula. Formerly known as the British Honduras, Belize gained its independence in 1981. The primary language is English, and this is what is taught in schools. Many parts of the country are bilingual and speak different languages. The population of this country is about 320,000 and has the lowest population density in Central America. This country's economy is based mostly on agriculture and is becoming a popular place for tourism.



Education & Arts Education:

Children are required to attend a primary school up until the age of 14, where they can either move onto a secondary school or choose not to continue with education. The schooling is free because most of the schools are private and supplied by the church or government. However, students do have to wear uniforms and pay for books, which can cause a strain on less wealthy families. Children who do attend college (high school) have to pay a higher tuition because these schools are no longer through the churches. On a Belize schools website the goal of the primary institutions is to, "provide students with the knowledge, skills and attitude required for their personal development to reach their potential and for their full, active and free participation in society and the country's development, and advancement of common values." (http://www.ibe.unesco.org) Students who do not have an abundance of financial sources find themselves only going to primary school (K-8) or not going to school at all. Mostly only the rich continue on with education and there are able to enroll in elective classes such as arts, drama, or music. I found a website on a primary and secondary upper class schools who had their own websites. San Pedro High School (http:/ambergriscaye.com/highschool/) is a private school established in only 1971 and only enrolls 200 students today. Here students are able to take classes such as band, music, choir, yearbook, newspaper, drama, and environmental club. The elementary school La Isla Bonita (http:/ambergriscaye.com/labonita/) does not offer all of these classes. It seems that the more you are willing to afford the more variety of education you receive. This reflects on the society as a whole because most of the population works in agriculture or service jobs, 30% of the population is employed by agricultural needs. (http:/www.everyculture.com/A-Bo/Belize.html)

Accomplished Artist in Belize:beverly_03.jpg

Beverly Smith was an accomplished comedian in the years 1979-1981, until Belize gained its independence. She then realized the Belize government was more interested in creating a new nation than with arts education. Before this she was traveling all over Central America performing her acts about the Belizean culture. She then realized that to compete with her country's new growth she would go back to school for her Bachelors Degree in Theatre, which she received in 1991. That same year she received a Charles Lampkins award for outstanding theatre performance. Beverly then became Belize's National Drama Coordinator. She held programs all over the country. Her main goal was to preserve the Belizean culture through performing arts. (http://belize.mybelize.net/) She also wanted to reestablish the country's National Festival of Arts, which also dwindled after the independence of Belize. She succeeded with her goal of the National Festival of Arts getting young children involved as well. Her last projects she was working on before she passed away was the Bliss Centre of Performing Arts, which ended up being created after her death. While working on these many projects it was said, "As Bev worked for social change in Belize through the Arts, her thoughts and attitude towards arts and culture began to change." (http://belize.mybelize.net/)

Successful Arts Organization:

In Belize the organization National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) encourages citizens to get involved in their communities culture and a way of doing this is by using the arts. This institution is located in Belize City which gives many people access to it national_festival_of_arts.jpgbecause this was the former capital of the country. IT is fairly new being created in only 2003 by the Government of Belize. They have many different programs available, one of them being the Institute of Creative Arts (ICA). This program encourages, "...Dance, music, theatre, visual arts and creative writing while maintaining links with the Ministry of Education in order to encourage training in and the showcasing of each disciplines of the creative arts." (http://www.nichbelize.org/ica) Being that many of the schools are funded through religion the Ministry of Education has a heavy impact on the majority of schools in this nation. These performances and galleries that are created are displayed in the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts, which Beverly Smith helped create. The NICH also is in charge of running the National Festival of Arts annually. Here many different types of art are displayed including music, drama, and paintings almost all of which reflect the culture of Belize. The Belize Film Commission is also a branch of NICH and promotes and help individuals get involved with film and television productions.The National Institute of Culture and History has many different purposes and advantages to the culture and education of the country of Belize.

Teacher Training Programs:University_of_Belize_Logo.jpg

Many of the teachers in Belize have no received any proper training. They use whoever is available to teach at the time for mostly the primary schools. However, in 2000 the Ministry of Education and Sports called to revise the schools. http://education.stateuniversity.com/) This included teachers receiving more education to higher the standards. If teachers do attend college courses they will attend on year (Level One) then return to the field of teaching for 2 years, then come back to college and complete another year (Level Two) and then continue teaching again. This will earn you your Level One Certificate in Teaching and will be acknowledged as a Bachelor's Degree in Primary Education. If the teacher wishes to teach at the secondary level or above they must complete more schooling. (http://ambergriscaye.com/) However, in this whole process the teachers do not have to attend college. There is no formal training in arts education, and only the more advanced schools even participate in arts education. The students must look to out of school activities or chose to go on to secondary school to be exposed to this type of education.

Funding of Schools:

The schools are mostly privately owned and are funded by either the government or the churches. Some of the schools are ran through the churches as well. Almost no one has to pay for an education unless they choose to proceed higher than primary schooling. There are no real funding supporting the arts education programs because there is such an emphasis on the core subjects such as math and science. If students do receive the opportunity of arts education in secondary or higher they are paying for it themselves because they pay some of their tuition at these schools.

Conclusion/ Reaction:

After gathering information on arts education and the education of Belize children I am walking away with tons of new information. I was surprised to find out Belize does not have that many programs for the arts in schools. Living in America I feel we expect these subjects to be in curriculum and when they are cut from schools many are devastated. I did not realize that other countries do not even have the option of arts education to begin. I was also surprised by the way the teachers are trained in Belize. Many not even being qualified to teach, but do because of the lack of teachers. In the United States teachers go through many years of schooling even after the required stages. A college education is required for many professions, whereas in Belize there are not many students who do even attend college or secondary school at all. There are many differences in the way Belizean schools are ran and the way American schools are.