Historic Milestone: Garifuna Language to be Included in School Curriculum

Historic Milestone: Garifuna Language to be Included in School Curriculum

After three years of collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the National Garifuna Council (NGC), the inclusion of the Garifuna Language in School Program has finally been approved. The school program will roll out in southern Belize communities such as Barranco, Punta Gorda Town, Seine Bight, Georgetown, Dangriga and Hopkins. President of the National Garifuna Council, Sheena Zuniga says the achievement is a historic milestone in preserving and revitalizing the Garifuna language and culture. 

Sheena Zuniga, President, National Garifuna Council: “We have been training our teachers in the southern parts of Belize where Garifuna communities are, to teach them how to teach the Garifuna language. Through this effort we wanted to get approval from the ministry for us to officially launch this program in the traditional Garifuna communities as in an effort to retrieve our Garifuna language. As we know, our culture has been losing its language and this is an effort that comes out of us trying to retrieve our Garifuna language and an effort to preserve the language. So us taking this step to get approval is historic for us because now we know that we can go ahead and try to preserve our language and that we have the government’s support.”

A Garifuna Language Curriculum and accompanying Professional Development Plan was developed by the Garifuna Language Commission. Zuniga spoke to Love News about the curriculum. 

Sheena Zuniga, President, National Garifuna Council:  “Well the curriculum was developed for infant one to standard six students. It will be based on the Government’s school cycle. So for different levels we incorporate different things. We’re hoping that within the twenty minutes that they would spend a week on it that by the end of the week they can say a sentence depending on their level and we’re hoping that by the time they’re finished with the curriculum for the year they would be able to say like a whole paragraph in Garifuna. We’re hoping that through this professional development plan that we can train more Garifuna teachers and it will be also be credited to their CPD hours with the government. Because remember since we’re now trying to implement the Garifuna language curriculum we will also need our teachers to be certified and to be able to know what needs to be done, how they’re going to monitor and evaluate whether or not what they’re doing works for the students.”

Back in November last year, the Battle of the Drums Secretariat donated ten thousand dollars to assist in the rollout of the curriculum.

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