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National Student Union of Belize makes recommendations for COVID-19 recovery

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Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020. 3:36 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: The National Student Union of Belize (NSUB) is calling on the Government of Belize (GOB) to make key strategic changes to the country’s Economic and Education sectors as a means of setting the country up for better socioeconomic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday the NSUB released its top recommendations gathered from a two-day dialogue session, held at the end of April, that gathered around 100 students from Belize and abroad to take part in the discussion on the necessary changes that need to be made.

The recommendations for economic reforms were: the immediate expansion of the Economic Oversight Team into a form of Post-COVID Socioeconomic Committee designed to prioritize Belize’s social protection landscape; that GOB takes a valued-added approach to the use of funds, borrowed or otherwise, making sure that distribution is as equitable as possible; increased investment in and interconnection of the social protection systems;  further investment in Information Communication Technologies beyond internet speed test and data plans to promote e-government, e-education and e-commerce; and the further review of Belize’s tax system to include new taxes such as a luxury tax on alcohol, cigarettes and casinos.

For the education sector the recommendations were: the provision of online education pedagogical support to educators as professional development; that tertiary level institutions be at the fore in advocating and pioneering technology for access to education for all its students;  adopt guidelines put forward by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to reduce harm to all who operate within the school setting;  recalibration and recalculation of fees that students pay to access education service; and that the  Ministry of Education through its Tertiary and Post-Secondary Services Unit to partner with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. to begin to document Belizean students who are studying abroad

In its rationale for the recommended changes the union points out that, according to 2016 figures produced by the Statistical Institute of Belize, the country has a working-age population of 271,651 with a labour force of 190,307 of which 17.3% made up the tourism sector.

“A sector that has been obliterated by the economic fallout that hit even before we reported our first positive case. The Union and its substantive members feel it is high time that we reconsider the main staple to the Belizean economy. While not banishing tourism, we endorse the bolstering of the formal economy by strengthening other key industries and introducing new members to its diet to support socio-economic resilience for all,” the NSUB said.

The union added that if feels GOB must treat the country’s socioeconomic recovery with the same level of priority that is being placed on the health sector as authorities look beyond the pandemic.

 

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