Supporting The Public Sector of Belize
Public spending on education was 6.6 per cent of GDP in 2010. There are ten years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school, which is free of charge, comprises six years and secondary six. Some 91 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2010). One in six primary and secondary schools in Belize are classed as private schools, but not all are fully fee paying, with church schools often classified as private. There are also semiprivate schools, where some costs are government subsidised. The majority of ‘traditional’ private schools – fee-paying schools that are independent of the government – are found in Belize City and Ambergris Caye. Most pre-schools are privately run.
The University of Belize opened in 1986. Belize also shares in the regional University of the West Indies, which has its main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Galen University at San Ignacio is a private university partnered with the University of Indianapolis in the USA. The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 1.60:1 (2011).
Public spending on health was four per cent of GDP in 2010. There are government hospitals in Belize City, Belmopan and other main towns, and health care centres and mobile clinics in rural areas. Malaria requires constant surveillance. The National Primary Healthcare Centre organises preventive programmes. Ninety-eight per cent of people use an improved drinking water source and 90 per cent have adequate sanitation facilities (2010). Infant mortality was 15.7 per 1,000 live births in 2012 (74 in 1960). In 2011, 2.3 per cent of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive. Private hospitals in Belize include Belize Medical Associates and Universal Health Services in Belize City, and La Loma Luz Hospital in the Cayo District.
There is a road network of some 2,870 km, 17 per cent paved, with 1,420 km of all-weather roads. The four main highways are: Northern Highway (Belize City to Chetumal on the Mexican border); Western Highway (Belize City via Belmopan to the Guatemalan border); Hummingbird Highway (Belmopan to Dangriga); and Southern Highway (Dangriga to Punta Gorda). The international airport, Philip S W Goldson, lies 16 km north-west of Belize City.
Buses: Bus services are run by private companies under government licence. The main carriers are National Transportation Services, James and BBDC.
Ports: The privately owned Port of Belize operated the Commerce Bight Port, near the town of Dangriga, until 2013, when the government revoked the lease. Used mainly for citrus fruit exports, it is now run by the Belize Port Authority. Belize City Port, the main point of entry and departure for passenger and some freight ships, is still operated by Port of Belize.