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Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2019. 9:10 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The University of Belize (UB) hosted its annual research conference under the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences on Thursday in Belize City.

Dean, Bernard Watler, paid tribute to the founder of the conference, Dr. Juanita “Jean” Briceño-Perriott, who came up with the idea of the conference nine years ago when she wanted to find a way to honor students who defended excellent research theses in their fields of study.

The conference featured presentations from lecturers and students in various fields, concerning such topics as microbusiness challenges in Belmopan; selective governance practices and security threats to Belize; the impact of microfinance on entrepreneurial development; shareholders’ investment in Belize Telemedia Limited, and a study of alcoholism at the University’s campus in Punta Gorda Town.

Dr. Watler made note that past papers presented at the conference have led to reforms and other initiatives for change in Belize, but encouraged members of the business community and others who have need of research to approach the University and its students for assistance.

We spoke to two presenters, adjunct lecturer and first-time presenter Frank “Paco” Smith and student Melita Muschamp.

Smith, who is also chair of the Belize Progressive Party, said his presentation on selective governance practices and security threats to Belize grew out of the recent national research conference dealing with that issue. He made note that his research, while a work in progress to be developed, is intended to spark an interest among the citizenry about the costs of these practices – ministerial discretion, corruption generally, and nepotism, and similar issues – from an academic perspective.

Smith, a teacher at UB for five years, commented that the “culture of research” needs to be further established in Belize to improve sustainable development – and not just at the University but among Belizeans in general.

Muschamp looked at the impact of credit unions and other microfinance initiatives on entrepreneurial development, concluding that it needed to be expanded and promoted to those most in need of it.

The University was established 19 years ago from a merger of five post-secondary educational institutions located across Belize.

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