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October 11, 2022
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October 11, 2022

Belizean children in five schools received ‘offensive’ survey with questions about sex, gender confusion and drug use without parental consent

Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2022. 8:47 am CST.

By Alexis Milan: Belizean children in five schools received a controversial survey to full out as part of a school-based competency test that asked controversial and invasive questions about suicidal thoughts, confusion over gender identity, sexual and drug use habits, without parental consent, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MoECST) confirmed in a public statement today.

The statement follows investigation from Breaking Belize News (BBN) after news broke over the weekend that outraged parents in Barbados demanded answers from their government, leading to an emergency weekend press conference in which that country’s Ministry of Education apologized to its citizens and vowed to destroy the surveys, which included the names of the children. Barbados also indicated to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that it doesn’t wish to partner any longer with its consultant who was hired to implement this project but stopped short of naming said consultant.

The project in question is the Code Caribbean Project, being implemented in both Belize and Barbados with funding from the IDB, which administered the survey. According to the MoECST, the project is a “positive youth development program which seeks to provide technical skills in coding and entrepreneurial life skills such as collaboration, teamwork, and conflict resolution.” It added that in an attempt to establish the project’s impact on reduction in negative outcomes, the survey included the Child Behavior Checklist Youth Self-Report, which is a general assessment instrument used in a variety of settings, including by pediatricians and hospitals. It said the administration started on September 26 in both Barbados and Belize.

Officials from the Barbados Ministry of Education, in its Saturday press conference, however, revealed that one previous test under this same project was also administered in June. There is yet no clarification from the MoECST if the same test was also administered in Belize in June.

The MoECST said some students from five schools in Belize were asked all questions, including the section deemed to be highly offensive and invasive. It added that students in remaining schools received a version of the survey which exclude the particularly offending section.

“While these questions are deemed to be a measure of mental health and well-being, this ministry shares the concern of the public regarding the nature of the questions, which have been removed. The ministry hereby assures the public that the practice of seeking parental consent will continue to be observed,” the Ministry said in its statement.

Outrage sparked in Barbados after parents learned their children had been asked about whether or not they had ever used drugs without their parents knowledge, if they were confused about their gender identity, if they think about sex a lot and if they ever contemplated suicide. Many parents felt their was something insidious about slipping in such a survey at the beginning of something call a “Computer Science Pre-Test”. In Barbados, there have been calls for the Minister of Education to resign from her post in the wake of the controversy.

In Belize, BBN understands the Minister of Education is travelling this week. The Minister and Ministry, apart from its statement, have yet to make themselves and officials available for further questions on this matter. It remains to be seen if Belize, like Barbados, deems the matter serious enough to collect all the instruments used and destroy them, as is the intention of the Barbados Ministry of Education.

The MoECST has also not disclosed how many students in total took this survey and from what schools and what standard or form. Following our initial reports on this matter, one parent reached out to claim that this was administered to their child at the primary school level, however, this has not yet been confirmed. In Barbados, the survey was given at the first-form level.

The test was administered by the IDB in partnership with the Ministry of Education. In Barbados, the IDB has since issued an apology for the inclusion of the questions, despite objection from the Ministry in that country.


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