WENR, Sept./Oct. 2001: Americas
On August 1, 2000, the Ministry of Education opened the University of Belize (UB). The new school is the product of a merger of five institutions: University College of Belize, Belmopan Junior College, Belize School of Nursing, Belize School of Education and Belize College of Agriculture.
New buildings are being constructed and most of the new university’s programs will be offered in the capital city of Belmopan. UB had a budget of about US$5 million for its first year and slightly more for the current fiscal year.
International Higher Education
Although schools opened in September as scheduled, most classrooms remained empty and teachers and staff stood idle because many parents can’t afford to send their children to school.
Between 80 percent and 90 percent of Haiti’s schools require monthly fees. Parents must pay up to US$200 as an entry fee plus US$10 to US$60 a month to send their children to class. In a country where the per capita annual income is around $400, this is an astronomical sum of money for most Haitians.
Parents often have to pay placement fees as high as US$200, paid in June in order to guarantee that their child has a place for the next school year. Given the high levels of poverty and corruption, admission to a school is often based on connections rather than financial need or aptitude.
The dictatorial regimes that have run Haiti for decades have never prioritized education. According to one source, deposed dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier spent US$3.70 per person annually on education.
There have been some improvements, however. In the early 1990s for instance, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first freely elected leader, created a deputy ministry for literacy. His successor, Rene Preval, built 158 schools, the government said.
The average minimum wage is under US$2 a day. Haiti’s trade deficit amounted to nearly $1 billion last year. Adult literacy is 45 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook. Only 45 percent of children attend primary school, and just 15 percent enroll in secondary school.
Sept. 9, 2001
In August 2000, Peru passed a new child labor law setting the legal minimum age for child workers at 12 years. It is estimated that there are more than 500,000 children younger than that working in Peru, and almost 2 million who are under 18 years old.
Some of these child workers manage to fit school into their daily schedule, while others fall behind. The gulf in the literacy rate between men and women is large in Peru, particularly among the work force, where the literacy rate is 66 percent for men but only 24 percent for women.
Girls suffer disproportionately, as they are burdened with housework in addition to working long hours, for poor pay outside the home. It is difficult for most girls to find time to study when they are expected to work so many hours.
BBC World Service
May 18, 2001