People’s Constitution Commission Launches Education Campaign to Engage Belizeans
The People’s Constitution Commission (PCC), the body charged with making recommendations for constitutional reform, is preparing to engage Belizeans countrywide in the reform process. The PCC held the launch of its education/consultation campaign at this afternoon at the Best Western. Perhaps one of the most salient points brought up at the event was that most Belizeans have not read the constitution nor are they aware of its content, and importance. The commission’s Chairman, Anthony Chanona, explained that the campaign will target specific demographics of Belizeans.
Anthony Chanona, Chairman, PCC: “That today we meet to launch our public education outreach strategy. It is a good strategy. It’s not a perfect one. And good need not be the enemy of perfect. Why is it a good strategy? Simply because it targets three areas of public education outreach. 98% of Belizeans have not read nor have any knowledge of the Constitution of Belize, which is that yellow book. May 2021 edition, 98%. It targets 2% of the population that has knowledge of the Constitution of Belize. And just as importantly, it targets Belizeans who love Belize just as much as any one of us living abroad. And they are present here with us.”
Chairman Chanona further explained that the model for the campaign was developed by the 26 organizations represented in the commission and tailored to the Belizean reality as opposed to being a copy of a campaign held in another country. He also made a distinction between the methodology of the ICJ education campaign, and that being used by the PCC.
Anthony Chanona, Chairman, PCC: “The template we developed was we don’t have the benefit of time, nor resources. While we need human resources we developed a template of splitting the country and in execution of our statute mandate under the act into five zones. The north, Belize City, the West and the South. Four zones. The fifth zone is the diaspora present here today. We have designed project, we call them zone leaders, deputy zone leaders, and station managers because unlike the ICJ that had a caravan of activities going into a village or into a town, public lectures, town hall meetings, and then packed up and moved into another town, our model is templated from a physical presence in the district throughout the duration of this exercise. Once we set up that structure, it remains because at the end of the day the people’s voice must be represented in that final report.”
The campaign features a collaboration with the Ministry of Education which has pledged to disseminate pertinent material regarding the constitution and the reform process to students using the school system and a collaboration with the Reporter News Paper to have a page in the paper dedicated to PCC matters. The CEO in the Ministry of Education Dian Mejia, on behalf of Minister Francis Fonseca, and the Editor of the Reporter Dyon Elliot signed an MOU with the commission at the launch affirming their partnership. Chanona said that the goal is to move from 2 percent of Belizeans having knowledge of the constitution to 50 percent by the time the PCC makes its interim report in October. The PCC was launched on November 14, 2022. The 26 commissioners and their alternates are taken from political parties, academia, cultural groups and other special interest groups.