REPORT #29 1998

Produced by the Belize Development Trust
Probably the biggest problem facing the Caribbean countries and Latin America is that the state governments are guilty of maintaining archaic administrative and political distribution systems.

In Belize and most of the British Caribbean, the old political setup still being used, is heavily geared to election vote getting gimmickry. By encouraging and persisting in maintaining these archaic political systems for low skilled, unemployed workers, and using a temporary job employment strategy to get re-elected, rather than building a politicial structure differently and then basing job creation on sound economic principals; the political system of most British Caribbean countries actually keeps large segments of the population in a never ending poverty trap and retards the development of a material and educated culture.

Both culture and education must be defined as dynamic components and education and communications accelerated particularly in Belize, in order to develop a flexible production set of technologies, which can offer the opportunities to move into this next century on equal terms with most of the rest of the advanced world.

UCB in the recent two years or more, has played a decisive leadership role of dynamic educational and service role to the nation as a whole. Political administrative change however, is going to be needed, to allow the various services of traditional archaic government centralized ministries to become under local control and so directed for responsiveness to local needs. It wouldn't hurt to have seminars and workshops around the nation on how to tackle such diversification. Besides obvious political solutions already offered over the last several years on this list, there is still the educational requirements in the nations districts for local governments, the methods, the re-organization of traditional centralized functions, such as land registries, public works, division of responsibilities for roads and bridges and farms.

One example is the problems outlined this week by Bill Gates on a televised world conference on television. The communications technologies are changing so rapidly, that the effects and opportunities are going to be very dramatic to the world economic order. The division of an elite utilizing information technology is going to become wider in many third world countries and even in European countries. In Belize an early solution to this problem has been started, but apparently stalled out. I refer to the establishment of a major regional district library in each district with modern communications for access to the general public. The Punta Gorda regional library for the Toledo District still does not have a dozen computers with internet access during open hours. This is repeated throughout the country at locations such as Mango Creek, Independence, Dangriga, Boom and so on. Public internet free access through the regional district libraries is a top priority in a socially conscious country, to bring at least a modicum of equality and opportunity for development into the next century. Whatever the bottlenecks are, the new government needs to get on top of it and solve them. Education in the form of UCB and quite a few community colleges are now tackling such futuristic development problems and are changing rapidly, but all this is not going to be enough, if the opportunities are not made available to the public at large. In a cost effective manner in a cash poor society such as ours, this means the nationwide regional library network developments have to be accelerated.

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