The Ministry of Human Development was one of the lead organizations for an Inter-sectoral meeting in Belize City. Held at the Radisson Fort George Hotel, the event had representatives from various government entities, including the Ministries of Youth and Education and The National Commission for Families and Children. According to Minister of State, Elvia Vega-Samos, one of the takeaways was the effect the pandemic has had on the education system. She explained that preschoolers, for example, are not getting the fundamental skills they need. At the same time, at the high school level, the number of dropouts is raising red flags.
Elvia Vega-Samos, Minister of State, Ministry of Human Development: “You know as a country it is very important that we look at preventative measures and be a country where we are proactive and not just reacting to situations. And so I believe that we need to be more detailed when it comes to trying to get these youths involved in various – if we’re losing them and they’re falling in the cracks okay what is it that is lacking there ? Many times you know we have our children going to school and they go on an empty stomach. Now how can you be in class and you can’t think so we need to look at the basic needs of our children before we can look at the higher needs. We need to look at food, we need to look at shelter, we need to look at all these things and so I believe that much can be done, much has ben done but there is a lot of room for improvement.”
We also spoke to the NCFC’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Eli Romero, who explained how important it is for stakeholders to coordinate efforts better.
Eli Romero, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, NCFC: “It is one of the implementation arrangements under the Children’s Agenda that was launched back in 2017. We need to do periodic assessments of where water as it relates to children, in terms of the goods and services that we provide to them and we get all of this information from the partners that actually provide these services. NCFC mostly does collaboration and coordination but the ones who are actually on the ground getting all this work done are our partners who are out here today during this meeting. We’re looking at what are the goods and services we are providing for children as it relates to health, education, security, economic security as well, how are the children doing in terms of their social spheres so the Children’s Agenda looks at their life expectancy, it looks at their education and it looks at it under three main areas. So we have the national outcomes and then we have the transformational goals and the implementation arrangements so those are the three broad areas.”
Reporter: What are some of the solutions as a result of some of those takeaways ?
Eli Romero, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, NCFC: “I think a lot of what we try to do is how we can improve the coordination and collaboration. We need to be efficient and effective in the goods and services that we provide and the resources we have. There is a limited set of resources that are available to providing all these services to children and if we are not effective and efficient in using them then we tend to lose a lot of the vulnerable population and they end up in the shadows behind everything.”
The event featured presentations from an alphabet soup of organizations, including the Statistical Institute of Belize, the National Drug Abuse Control Council, and UNICEF.