PUP Education Policy “Education Nation”

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Remarks

Hon. John Briceño

Princess Hotel, Belize City

12th August 2020

Thank you, Francis, for that very comprehensive roll out of our Policy on Education.  Let me also thank the other members of our Education working group who helped to develop this policy.  Our education working group included teachers, students, businesspeople, and former ministers in education, religious leaders, and other stakeholders.  We consulted broadly and so what we are delivering today comes from you the people.  As I said, we have listened; we will deliver.

For those watching on tv or via social media this entire document can be found on our website at planbelize.bz. I invite everyone to check out our website where you can see our policies in real time, or as we roll them out.

We are incredibly happy to be joined today here at the Princess by some of our PUP Members of the National Assembly, the mayor of Belize City Bernard Wagner, the mayor of my own home town Orange Walk, our National Deputy and regional Deputy Party Leaders, Party Chairman, Standard bearers, Representative of the Belize Youth Movement, and the President of our United Women’s Group.  We are glad you can be here with us at the Princess Hotel this morning.

We are also happy to be joined virtually by other members of the National Assembly, excellencies of the diplomatic corps, educators, members of religious and civil society, parents, teachers, and of course our beautiful Belizean people as well as other friends from at home and abroad.

Two days ago, our children were supposed to be back in our classrooms with their new uniforms, meeting their new teachers, reconnecting with old and making new friends.   Regrettably, the alarming number of persons infected with the coronavirus has delayed that exciting first day experience.

Like many in our nation, I believe we should wait until we are sure that all our children will be safe.  We should wait until all our teachers have the tools they need to protect themselves as well as our children.   And we must wait until our parents are assured that their children will be learning in a safe environment.  So that when that first day of school comes, and it will, we will all be happy and free from fear.

My friends, as we face life with this awful coronavirus pandemic we must all realize what it will do to our lives, not just for now, but for a long time to come.  When it passes and we go back to our regular lives it will be under a new normal. When that time comes, for sure we will all be living in a moment when our country will be dealing with some serious economic challenges.  Even now, it is safe to say that we are living in a time of change.  We are living in a time of uncertainty.

Today we all have family and friends who are struggling to find work.  Struggling to stay safe and they are worried about the future.

How do we get through this? We get through it together.

It is in this spirt that today we launch our plan for Belize starting with our policy on education.  Yes, education is about the present but more so it is about looking ahead—it’s about the future.  Every day we educate each other.  Every hour we learn.

Our education system will educate us for sure, but what we are seeking is much more.

We want to build a culture of learning that will change us, so that we can go out and change our families, communities, and yes, change this nation.

Es un orgullo estar hoy aquí participando en el lanzamiento de una de las políticas más importantes de un nuevo gobierno del Partido Unido del Pueblo.

La fuerte y muy bien estructurada inversión que haremos en los próximos años en la educación del pueblo Beliceño…les prometemos y nos comprometemos…que será inigualable.

El Partido Unido del Pueblo se compromete a construir un Proyecto Educativo que va a realizar en el país… el ideal educativo de formar en Belice una niñez y juventud saludables, vigorosas y alegres.

Formar una ciudadanía proactiva, participativa y responsable, que realice la búsqueda para la aplicación de soluciones económicas, sociales y políticas en la búsqueda de una sociedad más justa y equitativa.

También se compromete a proveer una educación que reestablezca los valores y principios como formas de convivencia humana y de armonía con la naturaleza.

Actualizar los contenidos y metodologías del sistema educativo de conformidad con la realidad multicultural y multiétnica de Belice, promoviendo el conocimiento, la valoración, el respeto mutuo y la unidad nacional.

Vamos, como gobierno, a garantizar la cobertura con calidad, pertinencia y equidad en todos los niveles, proveyéndole los recursos necesarios.

Teachers are our frontline workers in this fight for change.  We must first see them as nation builders, invest in them, so that they can use their creativity and critical thinking abilities to engage in solutions that will benefit our children.

One of the boldest objectives in our Education plan is our commitment to teachers.  When we pledge to achieve 100 percent trained teachers, for improving salaries for teachers, then we will be putting our money into the lead learners inside our system– the true transformers.

When we plan for an expansion of the African and Maya History program we are pressing forward, dedicating ourselves to learning about who we are first, before we can go forth and participate in the way we conduct ourselves as citizens.

Good civics learning will only flourish when we practice freedom, the freedom to think for ourselves, to think for the advancement of our communities and to act for inclusion instead of exclusion.

Friends, I am confident that our Party is prepared to tackle the task of making education work.  I am not interested in casting blame or pointing fingers, we are past that. I also know that in the current economic situation some of these issues will be more challenging for us to accomplish in the first half of our term, but we will get there.

I am laser focused on the healthy start feeding program; laser focused on the education loan fund, the teacher and learning institute, the rural education grant, the harnessing of technology for our benefit, and laser focused on making sure that our students are at the centre of learning.

I am here because families matter and because we need to do things differently.

Our education must be relevant, and it must seriously address the needs of our nation today and prepare our young people for the realities of tomorrow.

Let me say it plain to the members of my Party and to you fellow citizens, yes it was the teachers of Belize who were the first to rise up.  They took the lead and demonstrated on behalf of all of us.  I think we can all agree that a better Belize is possible.

For this reason alone, I cannot get this wrong.  I am prepared today to reach out and embrace a new partnership, one that is ready to work on day one of a new PUP government.  Now is the time for us to make decisions about what that future looks like. Together we have to decide if we are going to be a country where only five percent of our children will reach their potential and do spectacularly well, while the others will struggle to get by, or whether we will do right by the next generation.

A while ago we heard from young Samiyah who wants to help people, she says her dream is to one day be a doctor. I say let us give Samiyah and all our children a chance to pursue their dreams so that they all have the opportunity to succeed.  Let’s get it right so that we can ensure a future for Samiyah and the rest of her generation because we believe that everybody fi win.

Thank you.