The launch of Literacy as a National Priority by the Ministry of Education was held today. Literacy is of utmost importance to the development of a nation and today, a recommitment was made to prioritize it in schools. Dr. Carol Babb explained the purpose of the launch today.
Dr. Carol Babb, CEO Ministry of Education: Today we are recommitting with a more strategic plan in mind to ensure that students are reading at their grade level. One might say that literacy is already a responsibility of the ministry of education, and that is true, but today we are recommitting our efforts with all our partners to ensure that literacy is a reality for all our students. Why? Why are we doing this? National examination consistently shows that an estimated 25% are for schools have a history of low performance. Low performing schools are more likely to have a high number of students that are disengaged. Many of our students are disengaged because of their in ability to read and write well. Literacy is the basis for all forms of learning and many of our students are not reading at their grade level and this creates a number of issues in the classroom.
The literacy initiative is in 9 pilot school sin Belize city so far where there is a move to do diagnostic tests at the start of Standard one to ensure that the children are functioning at the level they should as it relates to reading. If it is found that a child is not at the appropriate literacy level, measures will be put in place to ensure that the child does not move beyond that point without getting the support he or she needs. Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber told us more.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education: This is a pilot and of course we are trying to make sure that we have the friendly environment for children, but as we often say while we pilot these things this is what our daily work is in the ministry. Teachers across this country should be working to make the learning environment for the children more child friendly. In fact if you remember some years ago with the collaboration of Unicef we had the quality schools initiative which saw us aim towards getting a school settings more friendly for students. So the pilot basically says that were putting more resources in the area but in fact we expect that this should be happening in all schools across the country and certainly as it relates to the diagnostic testing at the start of standard 1 that is going to be done at all our schools across the country and those intervention measured that needs to be there as a results, if the need be, will be for all our schools so not only for the pilots.
In Belize, the literacy rate of females between the ages of 15 and 24 is 93% while literacy rate of males in the same age range is at 91%. Toledo District is the least literate while Belize district is the most literate in the country of Belize.