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Minister of Education confirms Belizean students took test causing controversy in Barbados; says offending questions were removed

Posted: Monday, October 10, 2022. 2:19 pm CST.

By Alexis Milan: Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology Francis Fonseca has confirmed to Breaking Belize News (BBN) that Belizean students received the test administered by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), currently causing a firestorm response from parents and the public in Barbados, but said the section which included the “offensive” questions were removed from the Belizean version of the survey.

“The Survey was carried out in Belize in late September but by that time IDB had become aware of the objections and concerns being raised in Barbados, so the entire section deemed to be ‘offensive’ by some, was removed from the Survey here in Belize. That included all questions from 56 to 167.

Therefore here in Belize we were able to identify the issue before the Survey was fully carried out with the “offending “sections included.

IDB has ended the use of the Survey,” Fonseca told BBN.

This newsroom, however, posed further questions including details about how many students in Belize sat this test and from what schools. We also asked if the other section prior to questions 56-167 which asked for information about parents was still included in the survey and how such information was relevant to a school-based test. We further questioned how many other tests the IDB was involved in administering in Belizean schools and what protocols are in place to vet the content of such surveys/tests. We also questioned if Belizean students were required to include their names on the surveys as they were made to do in Barbados and issues of privacy and anonymity. We also questioned what such data would be used for and whether or not similar surveys may have been included in prior tests.

Minister Fonseca has since indicated a press release from the Ministry will follow regarding this matter.

The Barbados Ministry of Education held a press conference over the weekend apologizing to the Barbadian public, which has raised outrage over the matter. Children in Barbados high-school level were asked a series of questions in a survey which some parents suggest planted “seeds” in their young impressionable minds. Some of those questions asked whether students felt confused about their gender identities, contemplated suicide or self-harm, thought about sex often, or used drugs without the knowledge of their parents. Another section asked for specific information about their parent’s level of education and the type of work they do. It was only disclosed that the IDB administered the same test in Belize during that press conference by the Barbados Ministry of Education. Barbadian authorities have since requested that the IDB no longer use the consultants on this particular project in any other collaboration with their Ministry.

 

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