Education and Multi Cultural Cohesion in Belize, 1931-1981

  • Education and Multi Cultural Cohesion in Belize, 1931-1981

by Peter Hitchen



This thesis is concerned with the British neglect of education in Belize and the emergence of increased tensions between church and state, from the twin catalysts for social change of the 1931 hurricane and economic depression until independence in 1981. This conflict has revealed a contradictory web of power structures and their influence, through the medium of schools, on multi-cultural development. The fundamental argument is that despite a rhetoric- of difference, a cohesive society was created in Belize rooted in the cultural values propagated through an often-contradictory church-state education system, and that Jesuit supremacy of Belizean education came too late to unsettle or exploit the grass-root forces of cultural synthesis. Racial conflict in Belize is more a matter of habitual rhetoric and superficial. The historiography of Belize falls broadly into two categories: Diplomatic and labour, nevertheless cultural and educational studies have developed most notably from Social Anthropology. An extensive literature review revealed that notwithstanding the emergence of a substantial historiography of education on the British Caribbean similar research has been neglected on Belize. Therefore, my own thesis fills a significant gap in the historiography of British Caribbean education. The PhD discusses the relationship between conflicting hierarchies within education and multi-cultural cohesion, not yet been fully attempted in any of the secondary literature. This is a proposition argued through substantial and original primary research, employing a mix of comparative empirical research and theoretical Sights influenced by historical sociologist Nigel Bolland to analyse the interactions of people at community level, the ubiquitous presence of the denominations, and political and hierarchical activities. The empirical data was initially collected from HMSO, and Coldnial Office files at the Public Record Office. The principal methodological area of research for the PhD resulted from a visit to Belize to procure a quantity of oral testimony providing a ‘history from below’ as an extra dimension to the British Colonial perspective. The methodology for Part 3 (1964-1981) reveals shifts in the balance of power relying solely on oral evidence and archival/ecclesiastical records from Belize. Church historians have confined previous research into the latter to narratives. An important contribution to my area of study lies in the use of Belize as a central focus and the historical peculiarity of denominalisation, where, unlike the English system the church rather than the secular lobby won the contest for control in schools.


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Keywords: education, multi cultural, cohesion, church state


Suggested APA Reference: Hitchen, P. (2002). Education and Multi Cultural Cohesion in Belize, 1931-1981. Lancashire: University of Lancashire.

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