The unions were not consulted during the preparation for the 2018/2019 budget. This is according to Union Senator, Elena Smith. Senator Smith told her colleagues that while they were part of the process last year, they seemed to have been forgotten this year. At the start of her budget debate presentation, Smith who is also the National President of the Belize National Teachers Union, focused on the allocation made to the Minister of Education.
Elena Smith, Senator: “The apprenticeship program Mr. President if we not there we went from over 200,000 two years ago to about 20,000 last fiscal year to now zero, for the next three years. 2017-2018 it was zero. 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021 it says zero. When we look at youth development services two years ago we were at almost 30,000. All the the other spaces have zero. Our youth development services and as I recall this morning while I recall while coming up it was like a joke; we saw blue license plate rushing in front of us had on it Youth Services and they seemed to be a in a rush passing six vehicles on a curve and when I look here zero, zero, zero it makes me wonder what it is they were rushing to do? There is nothing there for them but they were rushing to get to Belmopan. Again we look at Special Education Unit- we are quite aware that our Ministry of Education has been pushing the matter of inclusive education where we want our children who have special needs to be included in the regular classroom. To be working with children with these needs madam president there is a lot that needs to be provided for teachers to be able to do the best possible job that they can do especially seeing that our regular teachers in the classroom are not very well trained in these areas. When we look at Special Ed unit they were allocated $100,000 and they spent $42,000. Now one may say that is good because they spent less than half of the budget but looking at the needs our teachers have to be able to assist these students then spending less than half than what was budgeted it makes you wonder what the priority of that area is. It also begs the question as to how serious are we as it relates to equipping our teachers to be able to have inclusive classrooms.”