Universal access to early childhood education and quality early childhood care continue to be challenging. In Belize, only one-third of the children attend early childhood education centers, mostly located in the urban areas, while those who live in isolated rural areas have little access to such centers. Some parents cannot afford the cost of early childhood centers, which are primarily privately owned and operated. Consequently, the enrolment rate at pre-primary level is low. The Ministry of Education is providing increased attention to early childhood education to improve this situation, and it is hoped that universal early childhood services will be achieved within the next decade throughout Belize.
Even when children have access to early childhood education, the quality of care is not of a high standard. In many early childhood centers, early stimulation of children is lacking, especially for those less than three years of age. In addition, many pre-schoolers sit in overcrowded classrooms with little or no equipment or materials to stimulate them. Furthermore, instruction is not child-centered but teacher-directed and rote-learning is the main method of teaching. While a minimum standard for operation of childcare centers has been established in Belize, government monitoring is limited. The turnover rate of caregivers is high, mainly due to low wages in the sector, which makes it difficult to sustain good quality care for young children.