By Amado Chan
Higher education, as we know it in 2005, in Belize, has come a very long way, mostly due to the recognition of the government and its social partners that a country’s most valuable resource is its people. Whereas in its earlier days higher education, for the most part, presented the opportunity to an elite population to pursue an Associate’s Degree, today it has managed to bridge the social gap and has provided ample opportunities to a larger population beyond the centralized Belize City populace. Additionally, the creation of the national university, The University of Belize (2000), has enabled proportionately larger numbers of Belizeans to pursue undergraduate and graduate programs of study. For too many years, since its inception in the 1950s, higher education was accessible to Belize City residents who could afford to pay for tuition, books, and other fees. Very few residents beyond Belize City, except those who may have been awarded a scholarship, could afford to pursue an Associate’s Degree Program. Having to pay boarding and lodging fees in the city, in addition to the tuition and book fees, made higher education exclusive. It can be said that five institutions of higher learning in Belize City, namely: the University of the West Indies Center for Continuing Studies, St. John’s College Sixth Form, Belize Technical College, Belize Teacher’s Training College, and the Bliss School of Nursing monopolized the offering of higher education, beyond the secondary school level, up until the establishment of the Corozal Junior College in the northernmost Corozal District and Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College in the southern town of Dangriga, both in 1986.
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Keywords: education, tertiary, BELCAST, University of Belize, policy