UNICEF Belize and the Ministry of Education have partnered to provide a thousand care boxes to needy families and children. The care boxes contain food items as well as hygiene products, and amount to about $100 per box. Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Dr Carol Babb, spoke to us about who the packages will benefit, and other projects that UNICEF Belize is currently working on.
Dr.Carol Babb, Chief Education Officer: “This is intended for students who were on the school’s feeding programs sponsored by the Ministry of Education. So students from Belize district, from Belize City, from the rural areas and from the Stann Creek district will benefit. Well there are actually about 1,400 on this feeding program on the government based feeding program but we’re giving a thousand to the most needy students at this time. The Ministry of Education will distribute this morning to about six schools in Belize City. We invited the parents to come and pick it up at their children’s school and they’ll be social distancing and observing all the protocols necessary at this time. The Ministry of Education has already given one package already to each child on the feeding program .We are hoping to continue for at least another month. I would like to thank UNICEF our partner for making this generous donation to children who are on our feeding program and as a result of school being closed at this time we want to ensure that the children are eating properly. So we have approached UNICEF and they are willing to support us in addition to providing these feeding program they will also provide us with a television show, television and radio show assist us with a television and radio show that will provide psycho social support to children, to teachers and the general public. They’re also helping us with funding the preparation of school based packages and other television and radio shows.”
The Early Childhood Development and Education Officer at UNICEF Belize, Denise Robateau, spoke on the value of the items and about the education programs.
Denise Robateau, Early Childhood Development Officer, UNICEF: “The total cost of the contribution in terms of the nutrition hamper and hygiene kits is approximately $73,000 US dollars. The contents of the kit is looking at hygiene needs for a family of about four and the nutrition contents would cover a family for approximately a week or so. We are providing a thousand kits at the moment to support the children on the school feeding program and we do know that within one family there are more than one child so in effect I believe that we would be reaching more than a thousand children. As a part of our contribution we are supporting with continued access in terms of supporting the packaging of distance materials, we are looking at an innovative, creative television and radio show. The show must be packaged for radio as well to support children who do not have television. I think the plan is for about three shows per week. The Ministry of Education is finalizing their selection process and the show will be interactive. It will be for children ages five to fifteen because we wanted to cover the primary school years. It would be for families as well, we want to have a segment of psycho social support mental health in each show in a fun way through games, through activities, through challenges and we also would like to have some interactive sessions on life skills such as cooking, gardening, cleaning.”
Michel Guinand, Officer in Charge, UNICEF Belize: “We are supporting the Ministry of Education in ensuring as best we can the continued learning of the students of Belize. So we know that with this COVID-19 outbreak globally and in Belize the majority of the students are out of school, more than 80% of students are currently out of school globally and it is of course very important to ensure that all students can continue to learn and so that’s why we are now supporting the Ministry in providing a thousand hamper kits as a support to the school feeding program.”
The programs will be locally produced.