REPORT #275 May 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Belize has a very poor reading capability in the 288 schools in rural areas. Lower grades of elementary school are not learning to read, for a variety of reasons. With six districts and a whole lot or rural schools out there in the boondocks, the problems facing the teaching of English, writing, reading and comprehension are formidable. How do we muster the human resources available to tackle this major nationwide problem?

Are English Teachers with Bachelor's, Master's and Phd's really doing the job they should in Belize? In the rural schools, often a teacher does not even have a High School Certificate. How can they be expected to tackle the fundamental problems of teaching the reading of English without assistance, from higher educated experts in Belize?

Teachers at higher educational institutions, teach their classes, collect their salaries and serve on a committee or two. But shouldn't their function in an agricultural rural country like Belize be more involved? Is it always the fault of an absentee Education Department in Belmopan, or some religious schools manager who hardly ever visits the schools for which he manages the salary disbursements?

How do these under educated rural school teachers get the needed help, support and enthusiasm to tackle these big tasks, which are obviously failing from the statistics? Shouldn't it be coming from our better educated teachers in higher institutions of education? Who will run some workshops for rural teachers? Who will do internet searches seeking new ways to improve teaching of the English language and reading abilities and present same results to the rural teachers? Who will increase the tempo and frequency of training and assistance programs for lower education teachers? Shouldn't it be these same higher Educational English teaching experts? Which of these teachers will actually go to difficult to reach, rural primary schools and help rural elementary school teachers with little or no equipment, or education to do the job? Are our degree'd people in higher institutions really contributing more than the basic salary function? Aren't their jobs more than teaching a class at the institution where they work?

Recently, the hooorah about centralizing education in Belmopan with a bigger bureaucracy was a real step backward in education, including reading problems. Even uneducated fisherman from the cayes like me understand that a more flatter horizontal bureaucracy in education is the better way to get cost efficiencies and higher performance results, than the proposed fiefdom building bureaucratic hiearcheal model being proposed. That stuff went out with the Dodo and the collapse of Russian communism! The proposals heard on the coconut telegraph for a bigger educational bureaucracy, have to be the brain child of some amateur elected political representative. One couldn't think for a moment, that a Phd in Education in the Education Department would be so stupid as to push such an idea. We know the bureaucratic mind wants to forever increase the size of their departments, the number of employees and so forth. This is a well understood and documented phenomena of human nature from way back in the Greek and Roman Empire days. Not to say, some countries like Russia made the same fundamental mistakes. But with the rapid increase in performance studies and other news on such phenomena, it is well understood nowadays, that centralized bureaucratic models that grow bigger are extremely costly, wasteful of financial resources and so inefficient as to be laughable. It is just that fundamental facet of human nature to build your power base at work here. Not practicalities and results orientated thinking. More flatter, less chain of command and more autonomous horizontal models are the obvious way to go. Yet the talk of a larger education bureaucracy leaves this fisherman scratching his head in wonder? Are they really that stupid in Belmopan? Belize is in America, it is definitely not France, or England, shouldn't those factors be considered? Why copycat something silly? Leadership quality is sorely lacking here if the coconut telegraph is true.

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