College of Education and Human Services collects books for Belizean students

Kelli O'Toole/TheNews

Story by Bella Utley, Contributing writer

The College of Education and Human Services is developing a Books for Belize project to supply children’s literature to schools in Belize.  

The program is an outgrowth of the Belize Teaching Experience that began in 2007 and allows students seeking teacher certification to teach for three weeks in Belize during the student teaching semester.

Kelli O'Toole/TheNews

Kelli O’Toole/TheNews

“Students who teach in the primary schools have been dismayed by the lack of children’s literature available to teachers and students,” said Bonnie Higginson, regents professor emeritus in the College of Education and Human Services.

She said the situation was amplified when she traveled to Belize to conduct literacy workshops for 200 teachers who were excited to learn about the innovative teaching strategies, but she said the strategies would be ineffective without the proper resources.

“We want to begin to make classroom libraries a reality for teachers and children in Belize,” Higginson said.

However, she said shipping costs can be prohibitive because one 50 pound box costs $1,000 to ship via UPS. However, she said there is an overseas shipping company out of Memphis that costs about $500 for seven boxes.

Local organizations helping with this project include Murray Elementary School, Murray Magazine Club, Murray Area Council of the International Literacy Association, Alpha Upsilon Alpha Honor Society and Calloway County Public Library.

Diandra Burgos, a post baccalaureate student from Belize, said this would help the children get conditioned to focus and achieve a standard of literacy. She said she thinks it will be beneficial for the teachers to have new resources and materials for the students.

“I think giving a child a book anywhere would be awesome,” Burgos said.