21 US teacher students receive first ever Belizean temporary teaching license

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

The Government of Belize (GOB), through the Ministry of Education (MoE) accomplished a historic milestone when 21 temporary teaching licenses were granted for the first time to foreign, volunteer student-teachers. The two-year temporary teaching licenses are the first of its kind ever to be granted in Belize and were bestowed during a short ceremony on Thursday March 21st at the San Pedro High School Conference Room. All recipients of the temporary licenses are senior students from the University of North Carolina, USA who are in their last semester pursuing their University Teacher’s Certification.

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According to the Professor and Director of the International Field Experience of the Foreign Exchange Program at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Dennis Kubasko, the 21 students come from a variety of specializations; including Early Childhood Education, Elementary (Primary) School Education, High School Education and Special Education. Kubasko explained to The San Pedro Sun that this trip marks the fifth year that the University of North Carolina is bringing student groups to Belize. This, he explained was an initiative resulting from the Sister City relationship that exists between the city of Wilmington, North Carolina and San Pedro Town.

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He called the granting of temporary teaching license to his students “a historic milestone.” In the past, groups were not able to grasp fully the experience of teaching in Belize because of the country’s teaching requirements. According to Kubasko, the main purpose of bringing these student-teachers to Belize is so that they can put their knowledge to full practice while grasping and exchanging teaching methodology with teachers in Belize.
So this time around, organizers decided to do things a little differently and after following the required processes, the 21 student-teachers were granted teaching licenses that would allow them to impart lessons in any Belizean classroom. “We worked along with Ms Miriam Codd, who is the Ministry of Education Representative on the island, for months to ensure that we had all the required paper work done prior to coming on the trip. After submitting all the relevant documents, the students were granted temporary teaching licenses in Belize. It is important for us because I think it legitimizes the teaching experience. It provides recognition for our teachers by the Ministry of Education in Belize, as well as provides some vehicle by which other teaching groups should follow. Once you are interacting with students while in Belize, I think it’s important to get the required license. I also think it is an opportunity these student-teachers can have to return and teach in Belize. Most importantly, it is just a big step for us, because these student-teachers can now impart lessons and teach while on their experience in Belize,” said Kubasko.

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At hand to officially present the licenses was the District Education Officer for Belize Rural South Miriam Codd. She emphasized on the importance of granting such licenses. “This is the first time the MoE is granting this type of license. I want to encourage you (the student-teachers) to take full advantage of it and use the license. It gives you the opportunity to teach in any classroom in the country of Belize. It means that you have fulfilled what is required, under the MoE guidelines, to teach in Belize and you should feel very proud. This is the first 21 licenses to be granted to students who are studying to teach from another country, and it’s an accomplishment for us at the Ministry of Education to be working along with the University of North Carolina,” said Codd.
While in Belize, the group will work three weeks in the classroom at various schools while the other two weeks are spent doing service projects, collaborating to write a book for children in Belize and even working at the San Pedro Community Library. “During their five weeks they will be observing teachers, assisting with working instructions, exchanging teaching methodology and work along with principals and other teachers while in Belize,” said Kubasko who brings different groups annually along with his assistant, Dr Susan Catapano.
Of recent the US education system has been putting more emphasis on internationalizing the teaching profession and internationalizing schools. Kubasko said that another group of doctoral candidates will be coming to San Pedro Town in the next few weeks. That group of students however, will be working along with school principals on the island and Ms Codd will be working on professional development programs for teachers.

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