While the announcement of the government of Regional Education Councils is not exactly the same as the call for elected District School Boards in each district by the Belize Development Trust under a District Government ( elected volunteers?) and numerous articles about School Boards, efficiency and more local control by voters in a geographical area of Belize to ensure prioritization of school spending monies that come from National Government. It is at least an expression of intent to utilize some of the more effective methods of getting better education on the local scene by de-centralization. Also announced was the intention of having District Education Officers by a government Press Release.
The proposals have not yet been implemented and the whole announcement smacks of townie controlled pseudo de-centralization schemes, attempting to de-centralize, but retain the centralized political power in the hands of a few in Belmopan. Whether or not it will work in such a fashion remains to be seen? But it certainly does not mention anything about local elections, of either the Regional Education Councils, or District Education officers. Something is seeping through the consciousness of the PUP party, but as of yet they haven't understood democracy and it's deeper workings as applied to de-centralization. But at least they are thinking! Some say mules think too?
Troubling the PUP town gang is loss of political control. Even when they get the lessons from BEL with privatization, as BEL now shows a profit under private management, versus that of a Cabinet and Finance Minister, they still are dragging their feet in bringing in democracy. Along with de-centralization, we require automatic BLOCK GRANTS of $12 million per district according to latest annual budget estimates. Out of which would come District, or Regional Education Councils funding to spend as they wish. Another $12 million per district would remain in National Belmopan Government hands, to be distributed per district according to specific individual departmental criteria; for instance on education, as decided not by government Ministers in a cabinet, but by the legislature and Senate in a debate and vote for controlling specific department matching GRANT legislation. Government by legislation instead of Ministerial whim! Whatever the decision this way, the monies allocated would be issued to each district on equal terms, so long as they met the MATCHING GRANT application criteria in education as set by the legislature. Monies not used by the matching GRANT process in each district from Belmopan each fiscal year would be forfeited and go back into general funds for use in the next fiscal year.
The fears that the PUP have with democratization, is loss of political power! In actual fact, this whole process would work a whole lot smoother and more efficiently, if the cabinet itself was democratized and changed from a bunch of self appointed leader opportunists being made Cabinet Ministers and the process of MANAGEMENT by a Cabinet, be changed to a Collegial Body, with one representative from each district. Each government department then managed by one year contract professional managers, subject to overall demands from the Managing Collegial Body called a seven member Cabinet. But with no Ministerial Posts at all! The legislature would then do the real work of government, as it should in any democratic government.
It is interesting to watch the PUP party and particularly those controlling few members from the port city, struggle and wrestle with the demands of building a nation, while at the same time realizing they have no specific leadership talents other than bureaucratic managerial talents to offer. The debacle over the last 35 to 40 years, points out that the current system does not work. In mathematical language, it is a fluctuating set of overlapping sine wave cycles rotating around the mean average of government annual income, with the variations caused by human nature and political party aspirations to meet short term voter orientated election periods, within the framework of available money to spend.
The announcement of Regional Education Councils and a District Education Officer setup will be interesting to watch. An observer can already see the faults in the system of operation as presently outlined. But since the formation and implementation is primarily about protecting Ministerial posts, extra salaries, and travel allowances for a few, mainly from the port town of Belize City; how the actual plan will work in practice is anybody's guess. It might improve things in a small way. A partial step in the long climb to demoracy in Belize. Onward with the experiment, lets go!