Students learn of Tertiary Education Options &Opportunities at T.O.O. Expo

By William Ysaguirre
Freelance Reporter

High school students from all over the country thronged the first ever Belize Tertiary Options &Opportunities (T.O.O.) Education Expo hosted by the Ministry of Education at the St Catherine’s Academy auditorium in Belize City on Wednesday, January 31.

Two busloads – the entire fourth form class of Stann Creek Ecumenical College, some getting up as early as four am to be ready to leave Dangriga at 6:15. They came from the west: a busload from Eden Seventh Day Adventist College in Santa Elena, and more from Sacred Heart College of San Ignacio, and even the Std VI students of St. Matthews Government School. They came from the north: Corozal Community College, Escuela Secundaria Mexico in San Roman, and Orange Walk ITVET, and busloads more came from the Belize City schools.

Students mobbed SCA for TOO Expo

Students mobbed SCA for TOO Expo

They came to learn what courses were offered, and what cost, and what financial aid was available for study at the local junior colleges, which all had booths at the Expo: St. John’s Junior College, Sacred Heart Junior College, Corozal Junior College, Centro Escolar Mexico Junior College, and even John Paul II Junior College which opened its doors in Benque Viejo five years ago.

The staff of the University of Belize and Galen University were joined by recruiters from the University of the West Indies and several United States’ universities; including the University of North Florida, Valdosta State University in Georgia, the University of Arkansas, The Citadel military college of South Carolina, Madison College Wisconsin, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and four colleges of the Peralta Community College district in the San Francisco Bay area of California: Berkeley City College, College of Almeda, Laney College and Merritt College.

Several diplomatic missions also hosted booths; the staff from the Institute of Mexico explained the many opportunities for undergraduate study at universities throughout Mexico, and the scholarships offered by the Mexican government under the AMEXCID programme of the Mexican Agency for International Cooperation and Development. Taiwanese embassy staffers explained the requirements to apply for a scholarship to study in Taiwan under the International Cooperation Development Fund (ICDF) programme, at universities where the instruction is offered in English, and for Taiwan scholarships in any discipline, where the instruction is in Mandarin. The British High Commission offered information on the Chevening scholarship programme for post-graduate study in the United Kingdom. The Canadian consulate presented information on the world of possibilities existing through scholarship programs for study at over 135 publicly funded institutes, colleges and polytechnics in Canada. There was also booth offering information on all other possibilities for further study in the USA.

Higher education does not come cheap, and for those who might not so easily gain a scholarship, there were several financial institutions to inform of the financing opportunities offered for students: the Development Financial Corporation, Scotiabank, and of scholarships offered by the Belize Bank and the Social Security Board.

The worldwide Association of Business Executives also offered information for careers in business management, and what support was available to help those interested students achieve their career goals.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also offered information about a number of other scholarship programs offered by governments friendly with Belize: including the Organization of American States, Chile’s AGCI program, Cuba, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Hungary, Turkey and Georgia.
Minister of Education Hon. Patrick Faber kicked off this exploration of possibilities in his opening address as he described his own path to enlightenment, pursuing studies for his Bachelors in Economics and Masters in Educational Leadership.

The Ministry of Health was also presented information on career opportunities available in health care, and the Taiwanese technical mission for cooperation of the Chronic Renal Disease Prevention and Control Project was also present, doing evaluation of students’ Body Mass Index (BMI), to determine their risk factor for non-communicable diseases which might lead to renal disease. The Health ministry also offered voluntary HIV testing.

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