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Social Services

Health:

The basic structure for health care delivery is provided by a network of seven district hospitals which are divided into four regions (Northern Region - Orange Walk and Corozal Districts, Central Region - Belize District, Western Region - Cayo District and Southern Region - Stann Creek and Toledo Districts) with the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital being the national referral hospital. 

There is also an infirmary for the care of geriatric and chronically ill patients. Local training for nurses and midwives is provided at the Belize School of Nursing. A new offshore medical University is presently operating in the country. To date, most physicians and physician-specialists have been trained either at the University of the West Indies or at one of the Latin American Universities (Guatemala, Costa Rica or Mexico).

Education:

Education is compulsory for children aged between 6 and 14. Primary and Secondary education is free. In 1997 there were 53,110 pupils enrolled in 280 primary schools (Gov't & Gov't aided), 10,912 in 30 secondary school and 2500 in 11 post secondary institutions. Government runs some of the schools but most schools are run by the churches. The Government maintains one special school for mentally disabled children and another for children with physical disabilities.

A Centre for Employment Training (CET) has been established in Belize City to provide a mechanism to reach the student population that has not had the advantage of completing secondary school. The CET has also opened a branch in San Ignacio, Cayo District. Training is based on employment trends, as well as on the nature of changes in the labour market. Specialized training is available at other institutions. The Belize Technical College offers craft and technical courses, the Belize Teachers College runs a two-year diploma course leading to trained teacher status. 

The Belize Vocational Training Centre in Belize City provides courses for primary school-leavers, while the Belize Youth Development Centre and the Belize College of Agriculture offer training for those interested in entering the field of agro-industry.

Advanced training is provided to Belizeans in the professional and technical fields at Belize's first university, the University College of Belize, which opened in 1986. The University of the West Indies maintains a School of Continuing Education (SCE) in Belize City. This institution's work includes organising adult education classes and lectures. In addition, it offers courses in social anthropology, constitutional law and conversational Spanish and Garifuna. The SCE encourages creative arts and sponsors an annual festival of dance, music and drama.

There is a well-equipped library service. It has its headquarters in the Baron Bliss Institute in Belize City and 74 service points scattered throughout the country. Remote areas are serviced by a mobile library. The Bliss Institute is maintained and operated by the Government in order to encourage cultural activities.