Microsoft is having exploratory conversations with some secondary and tertiary schools as well as the private sector in Belize, about incorporating online programs for schools and businesses. The program is to incorporate online education, and building capacities for not only students and teachers but for businesses as well. Cardo Martinez an Analysis of Credit Suisse New York told Love News about the program.
CARDO MARTINEZ JR
“There’s two facets of the program; one, is looking at building teacher capacity; secondly, it’s looking at building student skills. Teacher capacity: there is three levels to it. Firstly, how do they use technology? How can I grade my test papers electronically? How can I run smoothly? How can I finish my text books or my agenda better? Secondly, how do I encompass online education into the class and thirdly how do I start sharing ideas? Why I emphasize sharing ideas is because competition is no longer limited to our borders we have to look at innovation, we have to look at how can I digest data to make better decisions. Better decisions simply means I either make more money or cut costs this translates to the individual having tangible skills that they themselves can grow as a professional.”
One of the schools that are in the discussion state of incorporating the program is St. Catharine Academy. Principal, Salome Tillett, says that this is an opportunity for both students and teachers who can benefit in many different ways.
“We know that as it is our kids bring their tablets to school and it enhances the educational experience but they are primarily consumers of technology. I personally like the idea that they can be creators, that they don’t have to only download a dictionary that they could also add words to the existing dictionary, that they could use excel to not only learn how to use it but develop software that uses excel for example I’ll be happy to know that my students could develop some program to monitor the cafe, to monitor our recycling program and when I listen to the possibilities I know that they would like to do it and this would give us the skill to help them in that journey. The teachers have the possibility also to learn because its starts with them, they actually have to be the first line of incorporating the technology, learning it not only to teach but also for themselves to become more skilled and to have another way of earning income. I heard my colleague mention that they could learn to develop apps for example and you can sell apps, we all buy apps online so why not have apps created by teachers in Belize that are relevant to our experience here in Belize so the teacher has skills that are also an opportunity to earn money.”
Arturo Lizarraga, president of the Belize Business Bureau, says that this new program can help with unemployment, more productivity even with fewer resources.
“At the end of the day this exercise is about jobs and long paying jobs and unemployment is very high. The small projects helped a lot but we need long term projects and we need kids coming out of school who can seek those jobs and keep those jobs and good paying jobs. For us the other issue is productivity. Even those who are currently employed or every business that has people with skills like those can increase their productivity, increase what the business does with less resource and acquire more resources with those skills.”
Lizarraga said any business can benefit from the program and develop more skills.
“I think any business that has people who understand how to use PowerPoint, Word but it’s not just those programs its learning robotics, programming, develop games and so that is our reality we must take advantage of our reality we can no longer berate the idea of technology.”
Schools that’s are in the discussion stage in integrate the program are St. Catherine Academy, Muffles College, Galen University and Corozal Community College.