Minister of Education comments on Medical School concerns

Plus news has been doing a series of stories on Medical Schools who have been granted charters to operate in Belize. One which has taken up the interest of the Belizean public is American Global University School of Medicine. As we told you earlier Phillip “Fawda” Henry along with Patrick Menzies  of BelizeCAN has taken a strong stance against the school and is asking the Ministry of Education to respond to the matter. Well, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) sent out a press release expressing it’s  concern of putting into context recent statements made to media by certain individuals regarding the situation of American Global University School of Medicine. The matter was discussed on Rise and Shine this morning where Minister of Education the Hon. Patrick Faber called in to explain some of the points listed in that release.

Hon Patrick Faber – Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports:
vlcsnap-2013-04-24-20h57m41s139American Global University’s School of Medicine was given a charter to operate a medical school in Belize and this charter was issued in November of 2005. That is important in itself, because while I don’t want to get into a blame game and go back to what the previous administration did, I understand that the charter was issued in an error, where these six or seven other charters were issued for medical schools, most of which never materialized at all and were completely fraudulent. When I became Minister, I found a situation where there were a lot of scandals and a lot of complaints even to the Ministry. So we investigated all of them, including what was being said at the time – that this same American Global University has moved its campus. You will remember it was in Belmopan and then it moved to San Pedro and they were numerous complaints. 

Faber added that the charter was granted under the previous administration and that the Charter does not prohibit the school from changing its location within Belize nor does it require them to notify of changes in location.

Hon Patrick Faber – Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports:
vlcsnap-2013-04-18-08h33m40s115While I appreciate any Belizean who is trying to champion the cause of Belize and trying to make sure, as I would do myself, trying to make sure that the name of Belize is not dragged through the mud. I also want them to be aware, if they aren’t already aware, that this school in fact has its own internal controversy and there are players locally and abroad who of course have been in a conflict back and forth – the two principals of American Global, the two people who the medical council engaged back then in 200; there have been lawsuits, there have been complaints made. There have been one party getting a lawyer and asking us to hand over the charter to this one and to that one. There is more than whatever controversial issues of nonexistent buildings or students, there is more going on in this entire story than that.

Faber expressed this morning that in late February, 2013, the President-CEO of the school wrote to inform of the proposed relocation to a site on the Phillip S. W. Goldson International Airport Road, Ladyville, Belize. The Minister says that he was a guest speaker at one of AGUSM graduation.

Hon Patrick Faber – Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports:
agu-web-logoI will tell you that I have attended a graduation of American Global University. I have met with students who have shared their experiences with me and I have heard there students about the rotations that they have done in various parts of the world. I have heard their stories as they recount them about their time in Belize, so I don’t know what is the situation today, but I can tell you, whether or not something is going wrong now that in the past there have been students and I have met those students and I attended one of their graduations in Ohio and was their speaker. So it’s not fictitious certainly back then when I attended, which was probably in 2010. However it certainly was not a fictitious school then. Now under the charter that they signed and this is what the release says, back in 2005, they needed not report to the Ministry when they were moving the school. 

He also add that if there’s any deficiencies in operation or violations of their charter that is found. That matter will be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of their charter which makes provisions for remedying breaches within a certain time frame or else face possible termination of their charter.

Hon Patrick Faber – Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports:
It is explained that students come from all over the world and all over the US there are students who I met from the US in particular and they were saying that to travel to a location in the US would have been easier for us than for all of those students and their families to come to Belize for the graduation ceremony. I attended that gradation in a hotel ball room and it was there that I spoke to the students who graduated. I believe there were probably about fifteen students on that occasion that graduated and they told me their stories about being in Belmopan and being in San Pedro. I am not vouching for them, I am simply saying that I have had that experience. Either that or it was a very good act that these students could tell me about their friends in Belize and about people they know in Belize. I am telling you, they had at least a graduation where I was their guest speaker. If something has gone terribly wrong since that time, that’s another issue and I am saying that we are not here to protect and shelter anyone. I am certainly not here to do that. If indeed they are in a violation of anything that is under their charter then we will deal with that to the full extent of the law.

The Minister also stated that the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and the Medical Council of Belize through the Belize Medical Schools Registration Committee began a process to institute a more rigorous procedure for granting charters to prospective medical schools and to increase and strengthen the monitoring of such institutions to ensure that they remain in compliance with their charters.

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