Belize

Is located in Central America bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east and a dense forest to the west. The Country total area is 18,000 square miles where land is about 49%  or a total of 8,867 square miles.  Belize is known for it’s second largest Barrier Reef in the world which is about 185 miles long. (Australia has the largest)  There are more than 400 species of fish that live in the waters of Belize.  Belize is known as one of the world’s best destination for Scuba diving.  The Blue Hole, one of the Caribbean greatest underworld wonders is about 60 miles off the coast of the Belize Harbor. This massive crystal blue sinkhole is the largest of its kind, measuring 1,000 feet wide and more than 400 feet deep.   The Blue Hole is known for its great depth and the opportunity to explore stalactite formations in caves formed thousands of years ago when ocean levels were 100 feet lower. Belize is a birdwatching paradise – there is a large number of bird species estimated between 500 and 600.  The jungle areas are home to the Mayan ruins like Altun Ha, Caracol, Xunantunich, Cahal Pech and Lamanai located just outside of Belize City, there are about 900 – 1000 Maya temple sites. Most are unexplored and sadly some have been destroyed and used for road fill.  There are 450 islands in and around Belize called Cayes. Ambergris Caye is the biggest, which is  25 miles long, and the most developed island.
Belize gets about a million tourists annually of which 70% of are Americans.

belize

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mqQHmJFtsY       Blue Hole tubes     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmZ0fJC5lwQ

The Belizean people are made up of Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese.
Mestizo, Creole, Maya, Garifuna and Mennonite remained the five largest ethnic groups. According to the statistic in 2012, latinos are the largest group, with its share of the total population growing from 49% to 50%. Creoles accounted for 21%, down from 25%. Maya and Garifuna made up 10% and 4.6%. The number of Garifunas and East Indians remained at their 2000 levels. About 19 thousand persons or 6% of the population claimed to be of mixed ethnic origin.
The population of Belize as of May 2017 is 373,652 of which a half are teenagers and younger.
The official language is English, the only Central American country where English is the official language. In the streets of Belize, you will also hear a mixture of Creole, Spanish, Garifuna and Mayan language being spoken.

www.worldometers.info/world-population/belize-population

belize

WWW.SANPEDROSCOOP.COM       WWW.AMBERGRISCAYE.COM           (Downtown Ambergis Caye)

 

HISTORY
The first people to develop Belize were the Maya around 1500 B.C.E. Archeological records show that they established a number of settlements. These settlements include Caracol, Xunantunich, Lamanai and Lubaantun. Christopher Columbus reached the area’s coast in 1502. In 1638, the first European settlement was established by England and for the next 150 years, many more English settlements were established
In 1840, Belize became a “Colony of British Honduras” and in 1862, it became a crown colony. For a hundred years after that, Belize was a representative government of England. In January 1964, full self-government with a ministerial system was granted. In 1973, the name was changed from British Honduras to Belize. On September 21, 1981, independence was obtained.

www.infoplease.com/country/belize

SCHOOL SYSTEM

The first levels of education in Belize are Infant 1 and Infant 2, which would be equivalent to Kindergarten. Most children enter the school system at 5 years old and are introduced to writing and the learning of the alphabet for the first time.  At this level, 0ne in ten kids would have to repeat due to poor performance.  Preschool is almost non-existent in Belize, so far there is only one institution that provides early childhood education.

Next level up is 2nd grade to 7th grade, called Standard 1 to Standard 6.  High school classes are 1st Form through 4th Form, which is the equivalent of 8th Grade through the 11th Grade in the States. There’s a high dropout rate of approximately 40% or higher of children at this level who do not complete primary school.  Also at this level, there is a large number of children not enrolled in either primary or secondary school and put Belize at a low ranking compared to other countries. There are no mandatory government laws to get or keep children in school.
Following 4th Form in Belize, students would then go to a Junior College (Sixth Form) for their Associate’s Degree then on to Graduate School where they complete either a Bachelor’s or Master’s program.

In Belize, there are both church and government-run primary and high schools.  A few private or parochial schools run by Protestant and Evangelical denominations also exist. Some of the best schools are in Belize City and in larger towns. These schools are attended by children of the well connected and the more prosperous families.
Some of the more needy schools, with untrained teachers and few books or equipment, are on the outskirts of Belize. Studies found that lack of supplies is a major problem for schools outside of Belize, and that about one-half of the teachers have no educational training beyond high school.  Lately, there’s a big effort in encouraging teachers to attain their teacher’s certification.

 

COST OF EDUCATION in US dollars

The cost for books, supplies, fees, uniform, shoes, lunches and bus fare for students who commutes, is not affordable for many Belizean families.
The cost of education in Belize can range from cheap (public and primary schools) to very costly (private schools). Some public schools like St. Joseph Primary School have tuition set at about US $35 per semester. Rates can go up to as high as US $3,000 per year in a private primary school like The Island Academy on Ambergris Caye, which goes through grade 8.
High School prices range about US $500 a year for tuition and fees. While Universities charge about US $675 per semester (approximately 15 credit hours).
Teachers with four-year college degrees earn only about US $1,000 a month.

Higher Education Institutions

Belize also has community colleges and junior colleges. Community colleges such as the Corozal Community College, the Toledo Community College, and Sacred Heart College in El Cayo, are usually higher level institutions attached to existing secondary schools (high schools). These colleges may have secondary school programs but also offer tertiary, post-high school programs. Most are patterned after the “sixth form” in Britain. They offer associate or two-year college degrees.

The colleges in Belize City and elsewhere were more like U.S. high schools or two-year community colleges. In 2000 the University of Belize, a government-run college came about, which combines several existing Belize educational facilities. A new private college, Galen University, is in Cayo near San Ignacio and as an accredited institution is getting a good reputation as the best University of Belize. The University of the West Indies also offers courses at its campus in Belize City. In addition, several small offshore medical schools have set up base in Belize.

Backpacks 4 Kids International Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for students in undeveloped areas of Belize. Founded and directed by Carla Sherman, Backpacks for Kids International will be providing assistance to economically challenged rural areas of Belize.A native of the country, Carla knows firsthand the plight of these children. Growing up in Belize City, Carla is a product of Belize’s public education system. Unlike many parts of the world, however, public education in Belize is not completely funded by taxes. Parents there are obligated to pay a fee for their child’s education as well as provide uniforms, books, supplies, lunches and bus money.

Unlike most of her peers who continued in the cycle of poverty in her native land, Carla determined to make a better life for herself. And, in 1982, she seized the opportunity to do so. Winning a beauty pageant whose top prize brought her to the United States, Carla determined to make America her home; ultimately, residing with an aunt in New Jersey.

Upon settling in the United States, she commenced working as a nanny to both support herself and save money for her education. When the time came for her to attend college, however, the grateful family for whom she had worked offered to finance her education at Monmouth University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting.

Upon graduation, Carla embarked upon a career in accounting, finance, and management with both for-profit and non-profit organizations. During her career, she has not forgotten neither her own upbringing in Belize nor the generosity of the family to whom she is indebted for her education. After having a family of her own she had the urge to do something to make a difference in children lives and pass on the gift of giving in helping kids obtain an education.

She founded Backpacks 4 Kids International as a means of returning the benefits provided her to a new generation of young people in her home country of Belize.

MEET OUR BOARD MEMBERS

PRESIDENT:

Shyamia Murfield (Belizean Nationality)
Resource Manager
Military Observer Group
Washington, DC
Bachelor in Human Health Services
(Retired Veteran who served in the US Armed Forces)

VICE PRESIDENT:

Tracy Plunkett
Director of Finance
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL
Bachelor of Arts in Accounting
Masters in Business

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER:

Laurie Blitzer
Professional Hair Colorist
Green Brook, NJ

SECRETARY:

Maureen Joseph (Belizean Nationality)
Professional Nanny
Eatontown, NJ

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Sherlett Baboolah
Dorita Mainieri

OFFICER:

Carla Usher-Sherman
Director
Backpack4kids International Inc.
Dunellen, NJ
Bachelor of Science in Accounting

GRAPHIC DESIGNER:

Shaylee Sherman student

Student
Watching Hills Regional High School
Dunellen, NJ