Social studies curriculum development in Belize: 1950-2001

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Oestreich, Jo Beth Babcock

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This study describes social studies curriculum development in Belize from 1950-2001. Additionally, this study examines how the social studies component of Belize’s national curriculum has included or excluded the study of the ancient Maya. A qualitative analysis of Ministry of Education documents, National Archive documents, informal interviews with Department of Archaeology personnel, Ministry of Education and Belizean teachers were completed for this study. The data addresses the development of the social studies curriculum and instructional materials used at the primary and secondary level, examination of school enrolment figures of government, government-aided, church related, and private schools in Belize. Educational needs that need to be addressed in Belize include inadequate funding to access and develop instructional materials, limited staff development offerings for teachers, weak cross-communication within the government, lack of certified teachers, and irrelevant curricula. This study determined progress has been made in social studies curriculum development, but Belizean educators need to address the limited social studies curricula and limited textbooks available to learn Belize’s precolonial history, which provides a culturally relevant connection for present and future Belizean students.