For several years now the international accounting and services firm Pricewaterhousecoopers U.S. branch along with international community development firm Peaceworks has been working with the Belize Ministry of Education to teach primary and secondary school students the value of money. Today as part of the Education Showcase, the Belize City ITVET campus hosted a business fair with 28 participating schools. Judge and International Programs Manager for Peacework, Jessica Rice, gave her opinions on the quality of the work assembled.
Jessica Rice – International Programs manager for Peaceworks:
All the selections are very Belizean. I’ve enjoyed seeing what kinds of products they’ve come out with, because they seem very creative, and they seem to really appeal to a diverse audience. So I’ve appreciated that very much.
Do you see them producing products that can withstand longevity?
It seems so, depending on the products. Some of the arts and crafts are very well produced, as well as the sewing products, and things like that. The food was very good as well. I suppose that’s not long-lasting, especially when I’m around it. The products are very well built.
Do you believe that if they continue in this form that they would be able to market themselves properly?
I believe so. I saw some very creative marketing strategies out there, including sampling and firing, and very good presentations by the school students.
Guest and Minister of Education Patrick Faber was the beneficiary of one of the budding businesses when he got a shark painted on his face. He told us about the importance of keeping up this training in schools.
Hon Patrick Faber – Minister of Education:
People always talk about what is in the curriculum, and the curriculum has a lot in it. Financial Literacy, for instance, has been in our curriculum but we fail to make the connection sometimes. So I believe that we have to get people excited. It’s not so much to put anything new and to put any more support, it’s to get people on board and to get people excited and get people motivated to be a part of these initiatives that can really turn around Belize. I encourage the teachers especially, and that is why we’re happy to get training from our international partners even, but we have local experts who work in the financial field here in Belize that can offer assistance to our teachers and so on, to help get them trained and to get them all excited, and to get them involved, as they are today, as you go around you’ll see that, in this initiative and in the delivery of these aspects of financial literacy and management in the curriculum.
PWC partner Jim Smith underlined their commitment to the program.
Jim Smith – PWC Partner:
We’re committed to this program. We started back in ’08 with the Ministry of Education, along with teaming with a non-for-profit educational and economic development group called Peacework. Each and every year, we’ve been involved here in Belize. We’re going to continue. We’re coming back in July, with over 400 people from PWC to continue to run the Financial Literacy Camps. So we are very committed to Belize in this program.
Prizes were awarded for the best products based on creativity, usefulness, profit margin and marketing strategies. In related news, three primary schools were awarded for their participation in a national ‘Big Book’ program. Belize City’s St. Mary’s Anglican took home top prize of $800 and a Quantum 4G Android tablet; 2nd place went to Bethel SDA of Punta Gorda who received $500 and a cellular phone from BTL; and 3rd prize of $300 and a Canon color printer went to Independence Primary.