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Belize to receive $20 million loan to support ‘Skills for the Future’ in secondary schools

Posted: Sunday, May 28, 2023. 12:33 pm CST.

By Celeste Chang: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) are working hand in hand to shift the education system in Latin America and the Caribbean as we know it. Belize is receiving a 15 million dollar loan from IDB and a 5 million dollar grant from GPE, a total of 20 million dollars in support of ‘the Skills for the Future Program in Belize’.

These finances aid in ending learning gaps in crucial skills, to produce capable working adults in a changing job market and to encourage inclusive education. The grant will also be used to transform six high schools across the country into science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) laboratories.

The plan is to produce graduates who have the “fourth Industrial Revolution skills” required for cloud computers, cyber security and other skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century. While Belize has made the necessary efforts to evolve primary education and teacher trainings, the Covid-19 pandemic gave the country’s education system a major setback. It is believed to be the highest rates of dropouts and repetition in the secondary level education of all time.

Belize requires well trained individuals in the workforce to ensure a low-carbon, sustainable and competitive economy due to the country’s dependence on agriculture, tourism, fishing, and the exposure of critical infrastructure on the coast. The country is at high risk to natural disasters and climate change. The intention of this project is to invest in primary and secondary levels, including technical and vocational education and training (TVET). It will give low-performing students from all government-financed primary schools a chance to be apart of the program.

Moreover, a third of all secondary students will benefit from six STEAM laboratories and 15 secondary schools equipped with Virtual Lab technologies. Ms.Laura Frigenti, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education said she is pleased to collaborate with the IDB to support the government of Belize in attaining its education goals. “There is no more relevant agenda for countries than to prepare today’s students for the world of tomorrow, with skills that match the challenges our world is facing,” Frigenti said.

Minister of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology, Francis Fonseca added, “I am pleased to give my endorsement to this program, which forms a crucial component of the government’s plan to establish an educational framework that equips students to thrive not just academically but in all aspects of life.” The IDB loan is expected to be paid off in a 25 year term, with a five and a half year grace period. The interest on the loan is based on the secured overnight finance rate (SOFR).

 

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