Abstracts - Issue CQ 59, nos. 3–4 (September–December 2013)






Social and Economic Equity and Stability: Achievable for Most if Not for All – Jane E. Bennett


Sustainable development is a realistic objective on the political agenda of every nation.  Belize, even as a fledgling nation, is no exception and to achieve this global objective the political will must be in place to ensure social and economic equity and stability for most, if not all, members of the Belizean population. According to theorist John J. Macionis, there is debate among sociologists on some economic situations that consider the shape and capacity of the economy and other social institutions, and how these are interwoven.  In his historical overview of the economy, Macionis says that food, clothing and shelter must be compared to luxury items like automobiles, swimming pools and yachts.  Other factors to consider include the role of religious leaders, as well as the inclusion of (other) political roles: physicians, police officers and telephone operators.  He also discusses examination of the value of goods and services to ensure survival, to make life easier and more interesting or more beautiful. He states that products and the consumption thereof are also important to our self-image and social identity; how these are distributed in our society shapes the lives of each of us in different basic ways.  Macionis includes in this discussion complex economies which mark modern industrial societies that are products of centuries of technological innovation. The theories of Macionis are one of a few perspectives reviewed as it applies to the Belizean context for the purposes of this paper. This paper will examine the evidence of social and economic equity and stability, or the lack thereof, in the Belizean society today and how sustainable development is attainable using existing and accessible technology in correlation with relevant models from the global platform.



Human Capital Theory: Implications for Educational Development in Belize and the Caribbean – Lerory Almendarez


The belief that education is an engine of growth rests on the quality and quantity of education in a country. Formal education is highly instrumental and necessary to improve the production capacity of a nation and therefore, it is imperative that substantive investment is made in human capital. Empirical evidence of human capital models identify and reveal that investment in education has a positive correlation with economic growth and development. Criteria for the applicability and problems associated with the theory are identified and the implications for educational development are highlighted. Conclusively, this paper recommends that for education to contribute significantly to economic growth and development, it must be of a high quality to meet the skill-demand needs of the economy.



A Model for Designing and Facilitating Virtual Learning in Belize: Addressing Faculty Needs and Contextualisation – Kathleen P. King


Faculties are faced with a constellation of challenges embedded in virtual learning. One of the greatest needs for them in this context is how to design distance learning courses which address the needs of current and prospective students while upholding academic excellence, remaining feasible to develop, addressing the goals of both learners and stakeholders, and providing a dialogue-based learning experience (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004; Palloff & Pratt, 2004; Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009). Course design and faculty facilitation are two powerful ways to maintain retention and increase participation in virtual courses. This paper provides a model as well as trends and lessons for faculty support, course design and facilitation. The significance and purpose of this paper is to assist institutions and faculty in Belize to determine how to envision, plan, design, and facilitate online classes which will best address the many demands they need to satisfy.



Training Caribbean Literacy Professionals Online: Challenges and Possibilities – Michelle McAnuff-Gumbs


Prior to the year 2000, no specific training program for literacy professionals at the Masters’ level was available in the English-speaking Caribbean region. Hence, the University of the West Indies Open Campus’ attempt at using the online mode to train reading specialists in the use of research-based practices represents a fairly bold innovation; research is needed to determine the efficacy of such a venture. The paper examines the implications of online training for the effectiveness of literacy coaches being trained to operate in the English-speaking Caribbean. It looks specifically at the professionals’ expressed willingness to implement practices learned in the online space into their own practice. Through an analysis of a series of asynchronous learning conversations involving four group facilitators and seventy-seven teacher trainees in an online best practice course in the programme, the reactions of coaches-in-training to exemplary practices to which they were being exposed is revealed. Using a socio-cognitive lens through which to examine such learning conversations, the researcher demonstrates the movement in the cognitive response of trainees from awe and admiration, from skepticism that practices can work in Caribbean settings and finally, on being presented with images of exemplary practices in Caribbean contexts, to an eagerness to emulate practices observed. The study reveals that, while Caribbean teachers tend to initially admire depictions of best practice in resources “borrowed from more privileged contexts” and readily available online, they ultimately respond with some level of cognitive distancing and skepticism that may prevent them from applying practices observed to their own instruction. Trainees’ suggestions regarding adjustments to be made to the virtual environment become the basis for recommendations for the mounting and maintenance of a teaching resource repository to be used for training and professional development purposes by Caribbean teachers and teacher trainers.



Harmonising Nursing Education: Theory and Practice – Marjorie E. Parks, Laura Tucker Longsworth, and Isidora Espadas


The gap between theory and practice has been a prevailing problem in nursing and midwifery. In addition to having to be adequately prepared for their future professional role, nursing students have to seamlessly fit into the nursing workforce upon graduation. This requires a smooth transition between the academic and practice areas. However, despite much discussion and several efforts to implement various integration strategies, newly graduated nurses often confront an array of physical, technical, and mental challenges in bridging the academic and clinical divide. The purpose of this paper is to examine the issues and challenges related to student nurses professional development, focusing on mechanisms to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The authors use Benners (1984) model of skills acquisition and stages of clinical competence (novice to expert), and Watson’s (1985) caring nursing theory as framework for the discussion. Academic issues, including recruitment and selection of students, attrition and completion, and retention are discussed, as well as methods used to facilitate students acquisition of technical, clinical skills. Practice issues that are explored include quality of care issues, and bridging mechanisms including orientation, preceptoring, coaching, and mentoring. The roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders are highlighted and recommendations are made for the process to formalise the “school–service” relationship. Nursing practice is considered within the context of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Regional Nursing Body Standards, and other regional initiatives and commitments.



Integrating Education on Climate Change in the UWI Open Campus: Promoting Sustainable Development in CARICOM – Emily Dick-Forde


Education about the environment, including climate change, prompts participants to understand why there is a need for change to do things differently, and ultimately empowers people to promote and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. The seriousness of the climate challenge cannot be overstated. The Caribbean is overexposed as a tropical island region to the negative impacts of climate change. This essay argues for the UWI Open Campus to take up the challenge to provide education at varying levels in an eLearning mode for access by citizens across the region and its diaspora. It is observed that globally, many regions and institutions of higher learning have embraced the need for a definite and accessible response to the challenge of sustainable development of which climate change is a major player. The paper reviews online climate change educational resources, revealing a common thread of community networking across distances and capacity building in physical communities. It also suggests that the UWI Open Campus should embrace this focus on community learning and development to, inter alia, leverage the community-level legacy role of the Open Campus, forged by its precedents in Extra Mural Studies and its Schools of Continuing Studies over the decades.  The region needs to respond to climate change in a manner that reflects the widely held understanding of our vulnerability to its potential impacts.



Building an Effective Oil Spill Response Mechanism for Belize: Obligations, Threats and Challenges – Lloyd Jones


Belize currently has no oil spill response mechanism in place. The National Emergency Preparedness Plan for Oil Spills (NEPPOS) was adopted circa 1995–1996 and the tangible assets necessary for the actual physical response at sea are inadequate to effectively address a marine spill event. The risks of an oil spill in Belize’s pristine marine environment is very real and Belize has an obligation under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Cartagena Convention to protect and preserve its marine environment by putting in place a sound and effective oil spill response mechanism. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly associate the presence of booms, skimmers, boats and other such paraphernalia with the existence of an effective oil spill response mechanism. The constituents of a sound spill response mechanism comprise of more than just physical assets and must be predicated upon four main pillars: legal, scientific, financial, and diplomatic. These intangibles must be defined, harmonised, coordinated and exercised in order to build a credible oil spill response mechanism. Whereas the issue of offshore drilling is topical in Belize today, there are existing threats to the marine environment from international shipping to which little attention has been given. This paper therefore examines the process of building an effective oil spill response mechanism to address the current threats from shipping bearing in mind Belize’s international obligations and her domestic limitations.



Why Are Garifuna Students Underachieving in Our Primary and Secondary Schools? –  Joseph O. Palacio


There is great need to spotlight the overlap between education and ethnic identity as two primary variables within the analysis of who Belizeans are, and how we are transforming ourselves on approaching the fourth decade of post-independence. Using qualitative and quantitative data, this study shows that Garifuna students are performing at lower levels compared to their peers; it also shows that they are performing within a cloud of ambiguity on their ethnic identity. The analysis uncovers several social, economic, and cultural factors that impact their educational performance and cultural identity.