UT Tyler Enters Partnership to Strengthen Teacher Training in Belize

August 31, 2020

International Outreach

UT Tyler Enters Agreement to Strengthen Teacher Training in Belize

Publication Date: 08/31/2020

Working to advance education in both local and global communities, the UT Tyler College of Education and Psychology has entered an agreement with the Belize Ministry of Education to strengthen teacher training in the Belize school system.

UT Tyler will partner with educators in the Central American country to redesign the school system's teacher preparation program, including preservice teacher training standards and evaluations. Dr. Yanira Oliveras-Ortiz, associate professor of education and interim assistant director of the School of Education, will lead UT Tyler's efforts in the collaboration.

Add Description

Longtime Partners

UT Tyler student models small-group instruction in a Southern Belize classroom in May 2019, during one of many University-led trips to the country in recent years.

“The School of Education and the educators of Belize have worked together for several years in research, professional development, study abroad programs and other initiatives," Oliveras-Ortiz said. “We are excited about this new phase in our partnership, which will potentially impact the entire nation of Belize.”

The Belize Ministry of Education is working to strengthen primary education throughout the country, especially in remote villages where schools face unique challenges. Teachers in those villages often hold classes in buildings with no electricity and have limited access to teaching materials, professional development and other resources.

Oliveras-Ortiz is involved in discussions with the Ministry of Education to determine the school system's needs for preservice teacher training and to implement a plan to enhance the programs. As part of the plan, UT Tyler will train field supervisors on best practices for coaching preservice teachers during their teaching experiences in schools. Originally planned for in-person delivery, the initial training will be conducted online due to the pandemic.

“Preservice supervision training will be one step toward redesigning the school system's entire teacher preparation program,” she said. “Our overall goal is to build the capacity of Belize educators so they can ultimately lead instructional changes in their schools.”

The University's involvement in Belize began more than 10 years ago through participation in Teachers for a Better Belize (TFABB), which brings together educators from North America and Belize to improve preschool and primary education in Belize's Toledo district.

UT Tyler is an institutional member of the Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation (COBEC), which works to advance higher education in Belize by establishing connections between U.S. and Belize educators.

In July, the University hosted COBEC's annual summer conference, which drew about 150 participants from both countries. Themed "Partnerships: Learning and Service for High-Quality Education," the event was moved to an online format due to COVID-19.

The School of Education's affiliation with Belize also has created travel-study opportunities for UT Tyler education students. During visits to the country in 2019, undergraduate students modeled small group instruction for teachers in remote villages of Southern Belize, and graduate students conducted research about educational leadership issues in rural communities.