The University of Belize and Ministry of Education’s Department of Teacher Education Services (TEDS) as well as its Counseling and Caring Unit began a two-day conference with the country’s school counselors. These professionals are on the frontline daily in schools giving advice to young people and trying to prevent small problems from becoming big ones. The head of the Counseling and Caring Unit and one of the conference’s organizers, Dr. Colin Estrada, told us what the symposium is about.
Dr Colin Estrada – Conference Organizer:
This initiative was born out of the President Office. whereby one of the things that we’re looking at is that he had a concern about of boys dropping out of school. So we’re doing a Counseling Workshop. We’re taking a critical look at counseling in Belize. For the next two days, what we’re be doing is that we’re going to be having presentations that deals with child psychopathology, and ethics in counseling. We’re also going to be looking at trauma. We’re also going to be looking at a portion that is going to slated for the administrators. We’re also going to be looking at a portion that is for the counselors themselves. So we’re looking both administrators and social counselors, and the other counselors that are involved.
During the opening ceremony, UB President Dr. Cary Frazer expanded on the importance of reaching vulnerable populations – in this case, young men.
Dr Cary Frazer – UB President:
What we saw was in fact a situation in which Belize was behind in the cycle of development that had already taken place in the rest of the Caribbean. What I was looking at is a situation in which it was clear to me that the root of the problem was not at the stage of adolescence, but in fact at the pre-adolescence stage. The schooling system was not adapting to realities of having boys in the system.
There are comparatively fewer counselors in secondary schools than primary schools, with only ten credited – five in the CCU, responsible for all Government schools, and the remaining five in the Methodist (two), Anglican (two) and Seventh Day Adventist (one) administrations, respectively.