BNTU launches “Stand Up for Belize” campaign
Saturday, April 30th, 2016
On Friday, April 15th, over a thousand teachers from the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) gathered in Benque Viejo Del Carmen to launch their “Stand Up for Belize” campaign. The main focus of this campaign was to spread awareness on the Belize/Guatemala territorial claim.
BNTU national president Luke Palacio suggested that in reference to the dispute, the curriculum taught in Belizean schools should be changed. “We don’t want to hear that half of the Sarstoon doesn’t belong to us anymore. What is geography? Do you still have 8,867 square miles of area? Are we still located at longitude so-and-so? We need to get these things back into our classrooms if our Belizean children will learn to love and appreciate this country.”
Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, applauded teachers for their effort to educate themselves and the community on the issue. He also reiterated that the Belize/Guatemala issue is already part of the primary school curriculum and that the course is presently being revised. “We already have implemented these issues in the curriculum. The primary school curriculum is being re-sharpened, if you will, to have a greater emphasis on the historical aspects of the Belize/Guatemala claim. And certainly, when our teachers take the kind of position via their union, this has to be something that’s very welcomed by our Ministry of Education and the larger education system,” said Faber.
Dr. Assad Shoman, a guest speaker for the campaign and former People’s United Party (PUP) Foreign Minister, mentioned that Belize should amend the Maritime Areas Act so that our country can claim its rightful 12-mile sea limit. Since Belize signed the Special Agreement back in 2008 for the dispute to be prosecuted at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), there has not been a negotiated settlement. Dr. Shoman explained that Belize should claim their rights and the BNTU hopes to do so by gaining support from other civil society and political organizations. Over the course of the next few months, the BNTU campaign will be taken across the country, and the union plans to invite the Belize Territorial Volunteers, the Belize Progressive Party, and the Vision Inspired by the People party to share their opinions on the ICJ and Guatemalan claim.
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