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Education and Schools

Belize - Education and Schools

Education in Belize is based on the English system of education. There are three levels of education on offer to children. Primary education has 2 years of infant education and 6 years of standard primary teaching. Children start at the age of 5, though there are several kindergartens which offer places for younger children.

The secondary education consists of 4 years of compulsory education and a further 2 which are optional. Students can study for the GCSE examinations as in England at the age of 16 or the Caribbean Examinations Council Certificate. During the further 2 optional years students can study for the English A Level examinations. These are recognised by universities and colleges in other countries for those who wish to study for a degree abroad.

There are also technical and vocational qualifications on offer for those students who prefer less academic study, and these are linked to the UK's City and Guilds system of qualifications as well as NVQ training. Subjects include administration, child care and mechanics.

The main subjects taught in schools are English, mathematics, sciences, Spanish, history and geography. Most schools now also teach information studies and some give their students internet access. Religious education is usually only compulsory at a church run school.

Originally most primary schools were run by religious organisations and church groups but more than half are now managed by the government or private organisations. There are several private and international schools in the country, though anybody wishing to send their children there should be aware that fees can be high. There is no reason why the child of an expat cannot be educated at a state run school and enrolment should be fairly straightforward.

Following the completion of secondary education students can go on to study at the Belize College of Agriculture, the Teacher's College or the School of Nursing. There is also the University College of Belize and there are links to the University of the West Indies which has campuses in several countries across the Caribbean. Students are also able to study for degrees abroad, usually in the UK or the US.

All children are taught through the medium of English, though some who are using the native Creole dialect may have difficulties with standard English. Teachers must have the relevant qualifications either those gained in Belize itself or have qualified teacher status from the UK or the US.

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