Over three hundred teachers have received land parcels across the country. There is a total of one thousand two hundred applications from teachers that are being reviewed and processed. It is a program that came about through a collaboration with the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU). The union president, Senator Elena Smith explained to Love News that this programme is tailored for teachers who are union members.
Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “What we did we sent out a spreadsheet to our teachers to sign up , that was sent to the ministry the only thing that we did was to ensure that those persons who applied to us or who submitted their names through us are members of the union because we represent members only. So when the list came towards we checked to see that their members if they’re not members we put them aside. We got the application forms from the ministry, we gave it to those persons on the list and then we collected back those forms we sent them back to the ministry and the ministry sent to us the document with their lot number, the cost of the land and all of those and then we share that last week and the week before and now they will now go and pay that purchase price and then the ministry would then prepare their title documents, send that back to us and then we go back again and we deliver to our teachers. So really and truly it was just a discussion to see how we could gain more benefits for our members and land is important. We all deserve a piece of land we shouldn’t be going begging for a piece of land and so this is not something that we were saying well the government sorry for us is and give us a piece of land because we deserve the land but the ministry facilitated and accommodated the process and ensure that the process went through within a year I would say because this began last year February and so we’re almost at a year and our teachers are now getting that first document from the ministry so we are very grateful that the minister and his ministry worked with us to be able to give our teachers, our first time land owners, a piece of land that they can have something that can be for them. This is great news for us, this is we are so proud of this accomplishment, we have submitted about 1200 or 1300 names-our first time land owners and we have received over 300 documents already from the ministry so we are getting there slowly and we expect – and I hope the minister hearing me – we expect to get him to 300 within the next week or so that we can deliver again.”
President Elena Smith says the land programme for union members is a way of assisting teachers who do not own any land. She explained to Love News that the programme was possible with the full cooperation of Minister of Natural Resources, Cordel Hyde.
Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “We liaised with the new minister after the election and we had the discussion and from both sides we began harassing each other, I harassed the minister and his representatives and they harassed us when we were taking too long to submit and we are at a point now where our teachers who there’s a program for our teachers who are first time land owners. We do have some teachers who unfortunately already have a land and they have applied for a second piece of land or a third or a fourth or whatever that may be they did not follow instructions to say if you are first time then you only those person should apply periods. So for the last two weeks we have been going around the country delivering land documents to our teachers. They have gotten their papers to go and purchase their piece of land so they got a lot, a house lot, and they are now able to go in, pay for that and then they would be then going to the process of getting their titles. So we expect that within the next month maybe two months or so that those teachers who have already gotten their documents, who have paid, would be able to get their title document in hand from us.”
The land programme for teachers began in February 2021. The parcels are lease land which can eventually be bought into land title.