Belize: Day 3


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Happy Sunday!  Today was such a wonderful experience.  We started our day by walking along the beach and down several streets so that we could see more of what the city of San Pedro has to offer.  There were lots of food and jewelry stands, art shops, schools, and churches woven through the streets.  I found several stands that are on my go to list.  I can't wait to have freshly made pupusas and tacos.  There even was an authentic Mexican resturant.  Even though I've had all of these dishes before, nothing compensates for freshly made ingredients by the people who are known to make them.  In the U.S., so many of the ethnic dishes are Americanized.  I'm ready to try the real deal.

For breakfast a small group of us dined at Estelle's on the beach.  I ordered the special, which was 2 Fry Jacks, scrambled eggs with shrimp and chorizo sausage, coupled with black beans.  What I've noticed thus far is that every place that sold black beans as a side dish, the black beans were pureed.


After such a wonderful dining experience, I sat under a canopy of trees talking with some ladies who worked at the inn where we stayed.  The conversation was so rich!  One of the hot topics was the educational system:  curriculum, social promotion/retention, and government vs. private schools. When comparing the U.S. curriculum to the Belizian curriculum, one difference I noticed was that in Belize there is not a unified curriculum for the country nor a unified assessment instrument.  The "public" schools which are government schools are for students whose parents can't afford private school tuition.  Those schools may have over 30 students in each class.  On the contrary, private schools may have only 10 students in each classroom.

Currently in both the government and private schools, students must take an exit exam each year.  Each school is responsible for creating their own exit exams.  In government schools, if students are unable to read at the end of the term, regardless of how many wonderful grades they may have received, those students are retained.  They are not allowed to transition to the next level until they can demonstrate that they can read.  I'm curious now if this policy also holds true in the private schools as well.  Interestingly enough though, when the government issues an exam for all students after Standard 6, the government school students always outperform the private school students.  This does not hold true in the U.S.  Generally speaking, public schools, particularly public schools with high poverty rates, do not perform as well as their private and higher SES counterparts.

In the U.S. the educational structure is a bit different.  Since the implementation of the Common Core curriculum, there is more unification in the standards being taught nationwide.  Also, all end of grade standardized tests are created at a state level based upon the same set of standards.  In addition, although in times past retention was implemented more often than now, many students in the U.S. are socially promoted.  So the question then becomes, is it better to retain students until they master the curriculum (as in Belize) or is it better to socially promote students so that they can remain in classes with their age-appropriate peers?

To be continued,

2 comments:

  1. How interesting to learn the education differences. That is an excellent question. So difficult to answer too. Children vary so much in aptitude. Sometimes those who receive terrible grades growing up, go on to do amazing things so I have to wonder if being with peers may be better. Hmmm!

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  2. it's the same in Italy. Of course this is a broad and deep topic that has it's pro and cons, but generally speaking, I actually think it's good to hold back someone who has poor grades/not mastered the curriculum, instead of lowering the standards. Have fun, looks like the food is divine.

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