Sunday, May 24, 2009

St Ignatius High School in Santa Elena Town gets GRANT provided three more classrooms

Rene Montero the political area representative opens Cristo Rey computer center under new program.


As aid goes, this is a good one! Mainly because it is a GRANT from the Social Investment Fund and not a loan. The GRANT comes through a government owned institution under the Commonwealth Debt Initiative Program. It is said, that the Social Investment Fund provided $175,000 and the High School Board along with the Parent Teachers Association, provided $7,500.
The money paid for the construction of three new classrooms, capable of withstanding hurricane winds up to Force 2 in the high school.
The population of Belize is growing exponentially, much like the rest of the world, which now has 6 ½ billion people on this planet. Our area representative Hon. Rene Montero and another Cayo West area representative, Hon. Erwin Contreras did the honors of opening the three new classrooms.
It is said statistically, that 70% of our Belizean population do not have, or finish PRIMARY SCHOOL, which is Standard 6 here and called Grade 8 in either Canada, or the USA. High Schools are important, but only serve 30% of our population. About 90,000 youngsters have gone on to High School in our population through the years and our funds are inadequate to pay for the growth and need in education. 210,000 of our population do not finish PRIMARY SCHOOL and are left to fend for themselves. Most are illiterate, or partially so and only the quick and smart succeed in teaching themselves anything better. The population of Belize is guessed at 300,000 but may be 311,000 persons.
The real education problem in Belize is funding primary schools, building such schools and training of teachers. The Government of Belize simply does not have the financial resources. 26% of our annual government revenues are wasted on servicing past debt interest payments and due to escalate in two years to 65% of our annual government revenues, shrinking available funds more and more. Anybody can start a school. The education system will recognize such private built and organized schools after three years and pay about 80% of the needed teacher salaries. Primary schools are mostly built by various religious cults, to indoctrinate young minds into their particular religion and create a life long financial and power base. It is a bad system, but since we cannot as a country keep up with the number of schools needed, or the classrooms needed for continous expansion, or find the money to train teachers, it is always ONE STEP forward, and THREE STEPS BACKWARD.

CRISTO REY gets computer center
There was an attempt under the last government to spread internet as an educational and developmental tool, for productive purposes. The idea was to get district town libraries operational with FREE INTERNET. The system collapsed, because the library system had no funding, other than salaries for minimal staffing and nothing for furniture, maintenance and so on. Thus librarians tended to gravitate to competing with private operated INTERNET CAFES, who charge anywhere from $2.50 to $6 per hour for internet time. FREE INTERNET didn’t work out. This money then bought library supplies and parts for the computer system. Unfortunately the practice excluded about 200,000 primary school age children from ever being able to use the internet as an educational learning tool. The class divisions between the poor and the money earning class ( non productive, merchants and civil servant types ) got wider and wider.
A new start has been implemented from lessons learned by the first, now failed, FREE LIBRARY INTERNET program, using a European Union GRANT for $840,000 to finance 22 new INTERNET CAFES. The general government aim is to support the sustainable economic development of the rural communities, which are the productive sector of our economy. There is a political battle going on with our semi-monopoly ROBBER BARON internet provider, over control over internet service and many parts of our country of Belize, do not have internet service, or even telephone service. Some places don’t even have electricity. At any rate, Cristo Rey Village in Western Belize just opened the first of these 22 internet cafes, inaugerated by Rene Montero the area representative. The investment in this pay for service internet café is $37,100 Bz and $9,400 actually came from the Cristo Rey Women’s Association. Cristo Rey is a retirement area for Europeans and Americans and while there are not many retirees, those that have decided to retire and die in this beautiful section of hilly Belize, in the foothills of the remote Belize Alps, are very active in various social programs. The Womens Association submitted the original application for the venture and will also manage the internet café. This new facility comes with five computers and employees, five persons from the Association in a supervisory role. The lesson learned from the failed DISTRICT LIBRARY INTERNET PROGRAM of past years, was that such a program cannot be run FREE in Belize. There is inadequate government revenues to pay for such things. It is unfortunate that the divide between the poor, the middle class and the rich, does not seem to be capable of being resolved in this generation. We can only do what we can, as best we can. The answer lies with more productivity and increased exports, along with more diversification of our economic activities. Of course FOREIGN GRANTS through our local Non Government Organizations is a very good way to assist in developing Belize if you want to help building Belize.

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