Letter to the Editor: School Situation

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Letters-to-the-EditorDear San Pedro Sun Editor,
I read with concern the need for a government school and the apparent lack of progress on the creation of one in San Pedro. The Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr. has promised one before the end of his current term but no ground has been broken or administrative progress made.
Meanwhile, the number of children on the island in need of schooling seems to stretch beyond the existing walls of our educational institutions.
Somehow, this island can build dozens of hardware stores, supermarkets and golf cart rental facilities — a sign that prosperity is touching some people on the island — but no school for the children?
Perhaps there is a quick solution at hand. A short drive north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge sits the almost-never-used structure called The Hotel. My understanding is that it briefly – very briefly – opened as a hotel although it has never been completely finished. There has been a bar and a coffee shop on the ground floor – both now long closed.
Why not turn this wasted space into a school? For one thing, who else in Belize could claim an elementary school with its own rooftop pool? There are adequate grounds on the lagoon side for outdoor recreational space as well.
Converting the hotel rooms into classrooms might come at some expense but my understanding is that many, if not most, of them were never finished to begin with. The old bar and the coffee shop could be converted into a lunchroom and large group meeting space. There is even an industrial kitchen, I believe.
Too much space for an elementary school?
It could also be used as an evening class space for community college — or how about a specialized school for islanders interested in hospitality/tourism industry education? (I was impressed by the number of schools in Merida, Mexico, devoted to hospitality training. I think they really recognize that the professional staffs of restaurants, hotels and resorts create the biggest impressions on visitors).
I must say that I haven’t the slightest idea who owns this structure. Are they interested in selling? Who knows? They sure don’t seem interested in finishing what they started.
To me, this building is a magnificent opportunity for Belize to go big and do the most good for our youngest citizens – and possibly for the quality of education for the growing hospitality industry. All of Belize could benefit from a national tourism/hospitality school.
Think about it. Seems to be a huge opportunity wasting away. Lord knows, we seem to have enough resorts and hotels under construction to meet the needs of Belize for the next 100 years. Who will supply the professionals that run them?
Humbly submitted,
Bob Hawkins


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