Thousands of teachers to be unemployed following MOE new teaching standards

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is tightening its standards on teachers across Belize, requiring them to have the necessary education and pedagogical skills in order to keep their job in the coming school year. The implementation of these new standards is expected to affect over a thousand primary and secondary school teachers who do not have the necessary qualifications to teach in Belize. This was announced during a press conference on Wednesday, February 3rd in Belize City. The Ministry of Education hopes that with this step, the education system will be strengthened and teachers will become better qualified.
Holy Cross School 2Heading the implementation of the new regulations is Minister of Education, Honorable Patrick Faber, who indicated that only about 40% of primary school teachers and 31% of secondary school teacher are actually qualified to be educators. “We invested in teacher’s education and professional development. We provided financial incentives for teachers to acquire professional qualifications. We are continuing to drive the train and certify all principals and vice principals in school leadership; constantly reviewing teacher education programs to meet and exceed new national standards,” explained Faber. According to the Education Act Chapter 36 of the Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2000, primary school teachers should be trained at least at an Associate level, while secondary teachers would have at least a Bachelor’s degree in a specific subject/field with background in pedagogical skills. Faber explained that once a teacher’s provisional license expires, they will be in violation of section 29 (9) of the Education and Training Act 2010, and cannot be legally employed by the ministry. This policy will apply to both public and private schools.
The policy comes after a majority of the teachers failed to apply for a full teacher’s license due to the lack of pedagogical skills. According to the Belize National Teacher Union (BNTU), they have constantly urged all teachers to ensure they are meeting the requirement for licensing, but many teachers never heeded the warnings. “We don’t want the public nor our members who are teachers to say that the union has done nothing for them; that the union is throwing them out in the cold, because they’ve been told. We keep on talking to our teachers about continuous, professional development. It forms part of our theme in some of our conventions in the past where we are insisting on our teachers the need to get professional development,” said BNTU Luke Palacio.
In order to assist in the transitions, special arrangements have been made between certain teachers whose provisional licenses will expire on June 2017, who can apply to an Advisory Committee for a special permit for a period not exceeding three years for them to acquire pedagogical training. In addition, teachers nearing the age of retirement will also be given leeway due to their years of service in the education system. “In some of the recommendations that have been made, the BNTU was very instrumental in ensuring that all our teachers who would be affected, would not be affected negatively in its totality. For instance, we insisted that persons who qualify for service benefits that even if they don’t have, or even if their license would expire, that they would be given their service benefit. We were concerned about persons nearing their retirement and don’t want to go back to school or would find it very difficult given the circumstances to go back to school. So we were able to get agreements in the recommendations that persons who would retire in the next two years, will be granted the special permit that we are talking about. In terms of areas where there is very limited, or non-existent opportunities for these teachers to get trained to get the necessary qualifications, that they too would have to be given considerations as well,” explained Palacio.
Teachers who are over the age of 55 and don’t have the necessary license requirement will be required to leave the education system as they already qualify for retirement.

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