Graduate degree and no job? What were you thinking? Print E-mail
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Thursday, 16 March 2017 00:00

There are many young Belizeans with college degrees and no jobs. What’s worse is that many of those young college graduates have no clue where they can find employment. “No job noh deh,” is what many of them say. My question to them; however, is “what were you thinking when you enrolled in junior college?” 

The purpose of pursuing further education in a particular field is to prepare oneself for a career that your eyes (heart) are already set on. The role of the individual is to find something they are passionate about, identify a need in society and pursue studies that satisfy both. Many youngsters enroll in programs and have no idea how it will help their transition into the labour force. Upon completion of such programs they realize that no job is available in that field. The problem is not that “no job noh deh”; the problem is that you chose a field in which no job was available from before your enrollment. What were you thinking?

The young scholars are not to take all the blame, however. The education system has also failed them because of years of neglect. Administrations have failed to understand that a quality education system involves more than just paying teachers and making sure that school gates remain open for eight months in the year. The contentment with the status quo may be the greatest cause of the problems facing the education system. While the world was transforming, Belize’s education system remained the same. More and more students were disenfranchised as the government focused on an academics system instead of a true education system. As a country, Belize was playing school instead of educating its people. Individuals have not been encouraged to dream. You had to be “special” to think a career in the arts was possible and you wouldn’t have even been encouraged to take up wood work, electrical and mechanical engineering unless you proved that you sucked at Mathematics, English and Science. With limited options in the formal education system, all Belizean students were left with just about four education routes to choose from and the majority of them chose Business and the Humanities. Now the labour force has an abundance of business administrators and literature graduates and not enough engineers and agriculture experts.

There is hope. Upon taking up the portfolio as Minister of Education in 2008, the Hon. Patrick Faber quickly understood the great task before him. The system was saddled with an army of untrained teachers at all levels; decreasing enrollment of primary school age children in school; limited access to secondary school and a diluted and disorganized education structure. Minister Faber and his team took bold steps to reform the education system with the passing of amendments to the Education and Training Act. The program to address this particular problem is called the Belize Education Sector Reform Project. After almost two years of planning and consultation, the Ministry of Education launched the project in January of 2013. The project has three main objectives: improving governance in the education sector with emphasis on improved student achievement; increasing access and equity at all levels of education and; enhancing quality and relevance throughout the education system.

Stakeholders of education gathered at the Belize City Ramada Princess Hotel this week to focus on the third component; enhancing quality and relevance. Deborah Domingo, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education, said that in the effort to rationalize and diversify the secondary school curriculum the first step is to identify the profile of what a high school graduate of Belize should be. “A Belizean high school graduate should be a nationalist, a global citizen and actively involved in the economic development of the country.” This means reforming the curriculum to include more information technology, technical and vocational subjects, language and arts.The education curriculum will reflect the direction of the country and provide for the needs of the business sector. Finally…