At today’s Senate meeting, bills brought forward from the House of Representatives include the National Protected Areas System Bill 2015, Protected Areas Conservation Trust Amendment Bill 2015 and the Electricity Acquisition Settlement Bill 2015. Motions brought forward include the 7 million Belize dollar loan from the Caribbean Development Bank for the Belize Education Sector reform programme. While she supported the motion, Lead Senator for the Opposition, Lisa Shoman criticized the motion.
Senator Lisa Shoman
“I rise to speak on the Belize Education Sector Reform program 2 loan motion of 2015, or as I like to call it the repair of Faber’s failure. Mr. President this loan motion has us being asked to approve a loan to the government of Belize in the sum of $35 million US dollars on top of the monies that our children are already yoked to this will join all of the loans that have been made. There is no denying that the loan is for a necessary expenditure, it is necessary because of the failures of this government for the past eight years and Patrick Faber in particular as thee Minister of Education. Don’t leave senator you should hear this. Mr. President it is inconceivable that the house was given access to the 141 page explanation document because I am sure that there is no way that Patrick Faber could have stood up in the house and blown his own trumpet and beat his own chest in the face of the damning indictments contained in this document. It was received by us electronically late yesterday evening and I commit to the media that I will provide you with the full electronic document and I will also provide it to all Belizeans to read because you should read it. It is the most damning indictment of what this government has done since 2008.”
Senator representing the private sector, Mark Lizarraga also offered the business community’s opinion on the education loan.
Senator Mark Lizarraga
“We see that the intention is to provide for the construction of thirty five new schools proving 5,300 new places across preprimary, primary and secondary levels but the document also advises that we have a dire and desperate need to place 19,000 so while this is a step in the right direction we are still only attempting to meet the needs of 25% of those students that deserve an education. It also makes provision for furniture and equipment and consultancy services. There will be as a component of this a determination whether to increase and the implications of increasing the age of compulsory education. There will be a review of school feeding programs, a development of schools maintenance policy and planning which is desperately needed because the document also claims that some 80% of our schools are in dire need of maintenance and the development and implementation of a public education and communication strategy. Interestingly it waves in the procurement guidelines for the purchase of specialized new vehicles without restriction to the total waiver of US $90,000 the document does not say why I thought that was interesting.
Senator for Government Business Godwin Hulse rebutted both Lizarraga and Shoman’s opinions.
Senator Godwin Hulse
“If you were to look at what we are talking about the children who are coming out of school now at the age of 18 and looking for a job were through primary school, and preschool at the time when this government came to office. They were ten, eleven and twelve so the foundation was laid. The ones coming out of school now are eighteen and nineteen, they didn’t start eight years ago, they started eighteen years ago from they exited their mother’s womb that is where the education started, in fact some experts say that before the womb. I make the point that if we are going to sling mud then we have to look at the overall policies of all the ministries of education, past and present.”