On the education front, Government today announced that a significant policy shift in education is coming. Cabinet on Tuesday met and ministers announced their support for the Education Ministry’s proposal to increase the age of compulsory education from age 14 to age 16. That means, when finalised, children 16 years and younger must be in school. Cabinet Secretary, Stuart Leslie spoke on the development today.
Stuart Leslie, Cabinet Secretary: “It’s an exciting thing that is happening. It’s in its initial stage. Minister Fonseca yesterday presented after broad consultations with stakeholders in the education sector and so on and looking at again this whole of government approach. We have kids out here who are fourteen years old who have been kicked out of school and not in school and out in the streets and so on and they’re being lured by gangs and getting into things that they shouldn’t be getting into at that age in their lives. So the idea of this is for us to do something that is in line with the human rights of the child but to bring young people and bring .. they say you cannot leave school until you’re sixteen years old. It’s at the beginning stage because you know it’s going to cost some money, Minister Fonseca is estimating maybe as we look at the expansion of this program we’re talking about ten thousand more young people in school across the country for another two years so all that to be worked out and they’re working at it over time but thank you for that question because it’s an exciting thing and I hope that everybody will join in supporting this initiative to move the age for you to leave school in country from fourteen to sixteen.”
Cabinet said that this will very likely lead to other legislative and policy changes. It is also seen a critical move to help Belizean students prep for the real world.