Belize Visitors Hail Partnership for Teacher Training

Posted on December 16, 2008
Four distinguished visitors from the Central American nation of Belize were the featured guests at a breakfast and program held on Monday, Dec. 8, in the Dunn Conference Room of Crimson Hall.

Dr. Anna Bradfield, dean of the School of Education and Allied Studies, introduced the visitors, which included the Honorable Dr. Patrick Faber, Belize's minister of education; Carol Babb, assistant to the minister of education/general manager; Denise Robateau, director of literacy; and Candy Armstrong, director of literacy programs.

"Most of you know that one of our own, Dr. Lisa Battaglino, professor of special education, has been spending this year as a presidential fellow," said Dr. Bradfield, "and as the focus of her fellowship she has been working with the people you'll meet today regarding a partnership between Belize and Bridgewater State College, as a means to improve programs in Belize for children at risk and for children with disabilities."

In his remarks, Dr. Faber said he was "very pleased and very appreciative" of the work on behalf of education that Dr. Battaglino has done in his country over the past year.

"The partnership that Dr. Battaglino has helped establish will help us improve teacher training in Belize, which is a crucial to our nation. We have a large percentage of our teachers that aren't trained. We are very serious about improving this situation," he said. "I'm here today to signal how important this relationship between us and your institution is to the people and the government of Belize because you're helping us to address the teacher quality situation."

Ms. Robateau addressed the audience on the subject of the Caribbean Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training (C-CETT), which has been established to further the aims which Minister Faber had described. C-CETT is funded in part by the U.S. Agency for International Development and is being implemented through its partnership with BSC. Since its inception in 2003, the center has expanded its mission to six elementary schools, helping increase the reading skills of about 900 students.

"Belize is the only Central American country which has English as an official language, and we are a multi-ethnic nation with diverse languages, including Creole, Spanish, Mayan, Chinese, German and English," Ms. Robateau said. "Creole is the glue - the language spoken by everyone." As a result "many challenges are imposed on children's English oral language development."

The connection that's been developed between Bridgewater and Belize has allowed educators there to focus on "upgrading the skills of 30 teachers in grades one through three so that they become more effective instructors," Ms. Robateau said.

The collaboration between Belize and Bridgewater, Ms. Babb said, "is one we hope and trust will continue to grow. We consider ourselves fortunate indeed to have this strong educational partnership with Bridgewater State College." (Story and photos by David K. Wilson, '71, Office of Institutional Communications)