This morning, the Ministry of Education held an award ceremony for the students who did exceptionally well on the Primary School Examination, PSE, for 2019. These students managed to attain the top twenty-five positions through their hard work and dedication. As a result, they were honoured in the presence of family and friends. The Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, spoke to the media about the top performers.
Honorable Patrick Faber – Minister of Education: “Forgive me again for my bias, my niece is in the top 25 at number three. I have had an opportunity as you have pointed out to interact with all of them at the top 25 level, Also, the top ten at the district level which might not have been a part of the twenty-five. Those students are very stellar, we have quality, top-notch students and we look forward to seeing them blossom. In my time as Minister of Education, eleven years now I have seen students pass through primary school, top the PSE, get to CXC and top the CSEC exams, get top CAPE and top the CAPE exam so I am going to look out for this crowd most definitely. The ceremony is to recognize the top 25 performers in the exam but it is also now geared to recognizing those top performing schools, those schools that have most improved and also those schools that have consistently been performing well so we recognize forty schools in four categories. The categories merely had to do with the number of test takers per school so if you had a large number you are in category one and if you had a very small number you are in category four but it is the same waiting that we use to judge the schools so we recognize the top ten schools in each of those four categories. I must say that while you have some schools that don’t have a top performer you have some schools that have done very well and had consistently done so. We are proud of these schools and of course the idea behind this is to encourage schools to try to improve next year. That is really where the solution lay to fixing all of this. If the school takes ownership to engage the parents, to engage the students, to engage their teachers, they engage the wider school community which includes the Ministry of Education, there can be a wonderful success coming to all of our schools and our children.
Faber also spoke about the subsides that are given to students who are entering high school in an effort to lessen the financial burden on their parents.
Honorable Patrick Faber – Minister of Education: “When we started off almost a decade ago there was a very tedious process to applying for the subsidy: you had to submit your parent’s income tax forms and all of that. None of that now, in fact in three of our six districts it is given automatically for the entire district, in the other three districts it is given in the rural areas, except for the municipalities. Those municipalities are interviewed and we are pleased to announce that by large majority of the students are getting it. Of the seven thousand fifteen students who are in Std. 6 this year in excess of six thousand are being given the subsidies this year and for us that is a great accomplishment. If you add that to the about five thousand students who were in first from last year, this year and are transitioning to the second we are at a good 11,000 students who are benefiting from the Government’s subsidy in the city and for us that we will continue to push. You have heard that our next big move is, of course, to try to ensure that the subsidy is expanded to third and fourth from. In some areas, we are already doing that, in the Toledo District and in the Stann Creek District at some of our government schools. Right here in Belize City, all the students that are going to Gwen Liz this year are going to get that subsidy for the entire first form and it will move up with them through their entire high school.”
Faber said that the Ministry continues to build pre-schools through the Caribbean Development Bank, CDB’s loan since the Ministry believes in laying a solid foundation for children’s education.