Belmopan – The Government of the United States, through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), today delivered COVID prevention equipment to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology. The donation included 157 sanitization stands and 98 gallons of liquid hand sanitizers. The ceremony was attended by Minister of Education Culture, Science and Technology Hon. Francis Fonseca, U.S. Embassy Belmopan Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Keith Gilges, and UNICEF Representative in Belize Alison Parker.
Since 2020, the United States Government, through funding by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and coordinated by U.S. Embassy Belmopan, has provided $300,000 in grants to UNICEF to confront the spread of the virus through improved hygiene in public schools. Today’s donation marks the culmination of these efforts.
Funding for the sanitization stands and supplies was provided through the Preventing and Responding to COVID-2019 in Belize USAID-UNICEF Umbrella Agreement to support schools and students in the phased return in person learning. The distribution and use of the sanitization stands will ensure children in schools have an additional form of protection from COVID-19 and other diseases. Over 5,000 children in 45 primary schools will benefit from this contribution valued at $20,000 BZD.
In his keynote address, Chargé Gilges emphasized, “We want children to return to in-person learning at schools that have adapted procedures to protect children from infectious diseases. We want to create cleaner and safer environments for Belizean children than existed before the pandemic. We want to build back better.”
Parker in her remarks stated “If as a society, we are committed to recovering from the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and livelihoods then the answer is in investing in learning and ensuring schools and institutions can resume so children can get back to learning. The health and well-being of children are the most important investments a country can make, and this is also an important priority for UNICEF in Belize.”
UNICEF Belize also donated five Early Childhood Development Kits to the Ministry of Education for children in vulnerable communities and schools. The kits will be used to promote early stimulation and learning for children during COVID-19. Each kit can support learning activities for 50 students. The kits can be used for a range of activities to encourage the development and social interaction of children with materials also provided for caregivers. In addition, the kit provides water and sanitation items for the improved health and awareness of children.
This contribution is part of UNICEF’s broader programme of cooperation with the Government of Belize on Early Childhood Development and Education both for primary and secondary levels. “Education is one of the most important drivers of human capital investment. When children lose out on education, they lose out on future opportunities, including economic benefits such as additional earnings, with far-reaching consequences” Parker shared.
Over the past year, through the pandemic and natural disasters including floods and hurricanes, UNICEF provided critical hygiene supplies through the support of USAID and the U.S. Embassy. The sanitization stands and liquid hand sanitizers will be distributed to schools nationwide as determined by the Ministry of Education.
The U.S. government’s role in today’s donation is part of a broader U.S. commitment to help lead the global effort to confront the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. The United States has already committed $4 billion to support COVAX, and have launched partnerships to boost global capacity to manufacture more vaccines. Last month, President Joe Biden announced that by the end of June, the United States will share 80 million doses of our vaccine supply with the world. Yesterday, the White House announced that it would allocate at least 75 percent of the first 25 million doses of vaccines —nearly 19 million—through COVAX, including approximately 6 million doses for Latin America and the Caribbean.