Belize is routinely referred to as a Caribbean country in Central America, but few Belizeans know and understand the importance of regional integration as practiced by the Caribbean Community and particularly the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). For the last few weeks, consultants have been accompanying the local Ministries of Trade and Education and CARICOM/CSME personnel in promoting CSME among the secondary school teachers’ corps to teach it to Belizean students. In addition to content provided, according to consultant Dr. Gordon Harewood, there are pedagogical lessons in how to apply CSME and open up the opportunities that are present and available for them.
“This content, teachers need to share this content with their students. And that’s where I come in because I focus more on pedagogy. So much of the first day is spent with teachers, discussing CSME and discussing how it is implemented and then we move on to speak with teachers and to give teachers hands on experience to look at ways to deliver that content that is more student friendly and more student centered so that students are motivated to go and find out about CSME. To recognize first of all, hey this CSME thing is not abstract and far away and just in a Syllabus. It is something that we are living in and something that we can use, that something we can benefit from, something to make our lives and to make our country better.”
Harewood notes that students used to score poorly on questions in regional examinations having to do with CSME, in the areas of social studies and Caribbean History, because little information is available. The CARICOM education program on CSME reaches across the spectrum, according to CARICOM representative Silas Hamilton.
Silas Hamilton – Representative , CARICOM CSME
“We have several tiers of stakeholders that we focus on. We have just hosted 20 students from Belize in Grenada last month. we also have our rural communities that we will be focused on. Our media workers, broadcasters and news paper editors ; which we already have, labor stakeholders. Now we are looking at teachers. Teachers in the secondary school system, not the activity that we have have ruled out for University of Belize, Galen and UWI open capus.It’s actually high school teachers we are looking at, and we also have plans to even develop something for a product for primary school students. And that more than likely will be animation. If our primary school students can look at ‘Tom and Jerry’ or I think now its ‘Pepper Pig’, over and over again on certain channels, I’m not going to say which channel it is, why can’t we do the same things about the story of Belize, the story of Jamaica, the story of Trinidad and Tobago in animation?”
The current round of workshops began in Orange Walk and went south to Dangriga and Belmopan before coming to Belize City. About 20 teachers participated in today’s workshop, and about the same in the other work sites. The consultants have previously been to Jamaica and Guyana and will be traveling to other countries in the region.