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Sam and Becky Barber Update – March/April

Much time has been spent in meetings with the Belize Ministry of Education to prepare a “free lunch” program to begin at the end of January. We are delighted that the government has decided to move forward with this plan, as students who are hungry have a hard time concentrating on academics and tend to present behavior problems. Although snacks are provided during the mid-morning break (thanks to the generosity of USFW), many students are extremely hungry at lunch.

The current enrollment is 10 students, which may seem to be quite low. However, we have found enrollment in all the second chance schools in Belize is lower than in previous years. Surprisingly, Belize Friends School has slightly more students than the other two that focus on preparing for the primary school examination. Additionally, the school board adopted some policies for admission and attendance at our school. As a result of following those policies, we were forced to drop one student due to low attendance and to dismiss another because he threatened other students and started fights with them. When a student becomes a threat to the others, and all other means of correcting the situation are exhausted, the only recourse left is expulsion.

Principals from other schools are beginning to discuss our new policies with us and they are considering stricter policies within their schools.

If you have been watching our Facebook page, belizebarbers, you will have noticed that violence has been on the increase in our city. One day four people were murdered near our school building. The police roped off the area and our students were sequestered in the classroom. After a policeman was shot, the police decided to close the schools in the area for the day.

As we drove the students and Miss Candi home, we thought of Belize Friends School and how in the midst of violence we are making a difference for the students enrolled. We are “bridging the gap,” showing that there is a better way.