RET International is a global organization which focuses on protecting at risk youths through education. Here in Belize, the RET Youth Leadership Manual has been successfully implemented in eleven high schools. This has allowed the program to touch the lives of about five thousand persons. With the hopes to advance the program and touch more lives, the RET manual was officially handed over to the Ministry of Education this morning. National Program Coordinator for RET, Melanie Barnes, hopes that the manual will serve as a resource for the Positive Youth Development Program curriculum.
Melanie Barnes National Program Coordinator RET: The manual is really culminating some work that we have been doing with youths as it relates to leadership. It helps to highlight an experiential or participatory process of engaging young people and included in the manual is some key activities that we have tested and found that young people respond better to these kinds of activities instead of the traditional teaching method. They were more receptive to these activity participatory based activities.
Hipolito Novelo: What is the hope in terms after today with regards to developing the program with the Ministry of Education?
Melanie Barnes National Program Coordinator RET: The hope is that we can continue to collaborate with the Ministry in ensuring that all teachers are aware of and understand the methodology and we want to support the Ministry of Education in supporting teachers or educating key members of the teaching staff so they can continue to pass on this information to other teachers. The process is focused for RET on Youth Empowerment and Development so that is RET’s mandate, we are focused on developing and empowering youth for better participation in their commutes, in their schools and hopefully in the future in national decision making processes so that’s the ultimate goal of this.
The program is funded by the US Embassy in Belize through the CARSI Program. Chargé d’Affaires, Adrienne Galanek, says she has recognized the success of the program.
Adrienne Gallaneck Charge’ De Affairs: We are very happy to support the grant to RET International and this program, I know that Melanie has spoken to you extensively about it. It supports youth and they developed a manual which are really excited that the Ministry of Education partnered on and that they will be integrated into their curriculum for youth development, youth skills, youth entrepreneurship and then also youth action groups so different schools have established groups for youth to be leaders. The beautiful thing about this is that youth are identifying needs in their community and addressing them themselves and really carrying those leadership skills forward. They are doing things like Anti- bullying campaigns and learning different skills sets and how do you put together a campaign or budget, things like that. All of these skills are really important skills to be good citizens but also as they move forward through out there carriers whether it is contributing to the economy, to good governance, to security all of that which the US Government works in partnership with Belize.
Ret International is also carrying out its work in Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama.