Ministry of Education to continue financial assistance programs

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The Ministry of Education, headed by the Minister, Hon. Patrick Faber, Chief Executive Officer Deborah Domingo and Chief Education Officer, Dr. Carol Babb, held a press conference on Monday, June 8. They gave a run down of how the Ministry of Education’s financial assistance programs will be affected following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Faber explained that there will be cuts in various areas but by and large, assistance will continue throughout the education system. He noted that there will be cuts in textbooks as the ministry will not be purchasing the amount of books that they normally do. The ministry, he said, is looking at minimizing losses and at the close of the school year it is asking teachers to return for the last two weeks to close schools properly and prepare for the reopening in August. That means that they are looking at securing books which were used in the previous year.
In the area of school transportation, Minister Faber explained that the ministry is expecting cuts; however, they will be sitting down with contractors to look at a way forward. He said that he believes that they will be able to provide uninterrupted school transportation, maybe even increase transportation for students if it is determined that it is needed. He said that transportation is the neediest areas and will continue.
He then went on to speak on the school feeding program he said that the ministry is insisting that they are kept at normal level or even ramped up. He noted that funds will be made available for the programs to continue in rural area of the Belize District, the south side of Belize City and in Dangriga.
Speaking on the High School Subsidy program, which is one of the government’s signature assistance programs, Hon. Faber stated that it will continue. He stated that as it is 3 of six the districts had automatic access to the funds. Those districts are the Toledo, Stann Creek and Corozal Districts. The rural areas of Belize, Cayo and Orange Walk are also automatic recipients of the program while a Means Survey Test determines eligibility in the remaining urban areas. While Minister Faber noted that the program will continue, it will go from 300 to 200 for students going into first form and from first form to second sorm.
As it relates to the CSEC exams where the government paid for 6 CSEC exams, a decision has not yet been made on the matter. He added that the existing program of giving scholarships for those who pass six CSEC exams and more, there will be changes on how much the government will cover. There will be a lump sum allocated for the program which will be evenly divided among those who meet the passes.
Minister Faber also explained that previously the ministry would offer open scholarships to the tune of 200 thousand dollars. This year however, as a result of cutbacks there will only be two awards of 50 thousand dollars each to the top performers of the CAPE exams. Additionally, because there will be no PSE exams there will not be 25 scholarships given to top performers, instead 15 full scholarships will be issued based on merit. These will be done based on applications.