Friday, June 5, 2009


Young children and school children are the same all the world over, given the opportunity for education.
Belizean school children, descendants of United Nations Refugee program from the Salvadoranean Civil War.
Typical remote rural village school in Belize

By Ray Auxillou

The latest statistics show that 70% of the new population in Belize have no more than Standard 4 education. Which is around Grade 6 in the USA primary schools. In the USA, statistics show that 72% of the new populations do not have college.
What puzzles everybody in the USA and the EU countries is; what are going to be the NEW manufacturing jobs? It was not unusual for automobile factory workers in the USA to get $60 usa per hour. Working on a factory assembly line, is a numbing, mind deadening experience. While you do repetitive tasks, that are often nowadays replaced by robotics. Manufacturing jobs in the USA have dropped from 70% to 9% of the population, in employment circles. Everbody puzzles over the future? Those workers being displaced from factories today are unemployable. They had unions and pensions and gargantuan salaries, sometimes more than public service administrative personal with Ph’ds. The United Kingdom has also lost it’s manufacturing jobs. Most of those old factories are now in India, or China. I saw this happen in Canada as a youth, when railway workers in steam engines were made obsolete by diesel locomotives and laid off by the tens of thousands. Most of them never found another job. They died out on the dole. In the UK such obsolete workers, unfit for any kind of employment, due to their limited repetitive factory and union tendencies, that do not fit newer efficiency production and wage schedules, must pass out the remainder of their lives in tiny row houses among other millions of people, living off an unemployment cheque. Which is breaking the British Banks and government. The British Isles is the most congested and population dense country in all the countries of the European Union. It is of no use to migrate to England for sure, they are now a second world country, heading for third world status. We are observing the lingering death throes of the British Commonwealth and the British Empire.
How about Belize? What is our future? In the short term, for present population levels, land availability and population growth can be absorbed by agriculture. This cannot last and must be considered a short term solution for workers. The next step for any new government of Belize is the solicitation of manufacturing jobs, but what will they be? Cloning plants, confectionary exports, liquor exports, financial services, tourism offerings for adventure and excitement. These we know, but what does the future need? With a population in Belize that only has a base level of Standard 4 education, or Grade 6 in the USA, or Canada, we need to give some thought to the future. The same puzzle faces the European Union countries, the USA and other manufacturing countries.
For the small size of our country of Belize, the small size of our population and within the limits of population growth ( 10% a year ), we need to plot the next 30 years. After that, the situation and the story will change for the future once again, giving a new generation new challenges to solve recycling problems in a world driven by technology changes. ( The Mayan calendar of forecasting KATUN changes ) The world is in change because we are putting new invented technologies to use in manufacturing. These make old technologies obsolete.
What I have learned in Belize is that there are two main kinds of education that prepares young adults for life in their future life cycle of 70 years. We produce civil service types, clerks and administrators, we produce business people who are entrepreneurs, we produce farmers which is a growing opportunity field for probably another 20 years in Belize. Of the choices facing our 70% of the population who only have Standard 4 primary school, it is obvious the necessity of future governments is to resolve methods of raising our education levels through High School. Politicians must find ways to improve and raise school leaving statistics. What I learned in my life was that the science, physics, chemistry and mathematics courses, of High School, taught problem solving. This is essential to making your way in the world. We should shoot for at least the first two years of High School, as a minimum goal, to replace our current level of Standard 4 primary school leaving statistic. The middle goal would be a High School graduation. Not necessary but useful and a maximum goal should be two years of an Associate Degree level for the next largest number of our population. With the advent of the internet, any high school dropout can teach themself almost anything, in a trade and general sense, if the motivation is there. Anything over that upper education, usually destines one for employment in the civil service, or some sort of company administrator. For this, if you are going to go past an Associate Degree level, you obviously have decided on your career choice and nowadays, Bachelor Degrees and Masters Degrees are lower level worker requirements in administrative positions and the goal for any child going past Associate Degree should be the Ph’d. Or having several Ph’ds. If you want to be at the top of the administrative SALARIED employee heap.
Essentially new generations need to learn to problem solve. Learn to type and know how to find information on the internet. The biggest opportunities are in business, the export business. For business, two years of High School is probably the minimum for a sharp kid. An Associate Degree would allow some specialization and a lot of extra formative teen age years, learning to problem solve. Business is about problem solving, not about education per se. An education cannot make you a successful business person. Education can rob you of the opportunity if you have the drive and necessity to start a business though. An MBA is an oxymoron pretty much. A salaried type education mostly. Teenage years are mostly growing up and maturing years anyway, so keeping them in the education system is not going to hurt them.
There comes a split, a choice to be made somewhere in the late teens. Are you going to become a business entrepreneur, or a salaried employee for somebody else? If the former choice, then you have enough education from half way through High School, to the end of a two year college Associate Degree. A business entrepreneur learns to problem solve and the thing to learn, is to use other stupid people who have Bachelors and Masters and Ph’ds, to do your work for you. Pay them for giving you the information and specialty task you need to problem solve, as a businessperson. A business person is a generalist, a person who can find information and act upon it and put things together and make them work, to make a product that makes money. In engineering fields, we call a generalist business person, an APPLIED SCIENTIST. Somebody who is not educated in specialties, but knows a bit about everything, or can find out from those that know specialties, or do the research on the internet to figure out whatever it is they wish to do. The secret is problem solving and learning to take disparate parts of information and create something new, that can be sold abroad by exporting. The big money is in having a business. Also the big job security is in having a business, or in the case of Belize, it has always been so, since British Honduras colonial times, to have SEVEN businesses, to feed your family through the seasonal fluctuations in a year, found when you attempt to only have one business. The boom and bust cycle of any business, or feast and famine cycle found in businesses. Somewhere in early high school education in Belize, it is needed to teach new generations of Belizean youth, the lesson of using other peoples money, as in selling off SHARES to get the capital you require. How to form companies using other peoples risk capital. Keeping company control through different strategms. Most Belize colonial families still concentrate on family totally owned business, which is severely limiting of opportunities. There are successful exceptions, Barry Bowan and Lord Ashcroft are some examples.
The other choice children have to make, is how far in formal school education should you go? The choice is simple. If you are going to be a salaried person, working for an employer, then a Ph’d is the top education you require. Somewhere in here financial straits, and other family situations will cut you off before you get to the top of the salaried employee education heap. So that will put you lower down on the scale of salary to expect and the position you can hold, on the ladder of salaried employment. In a changing technological world, this will never give you job security though. The business orientated person on the other hand, should not exceed an Associate Degree, as further specialization ruins your generalist education needed, to recognize and problem solve the starting of new businesses and taking opportunities. There are exceptions of course, these thoughts are generalizations, but true for the majority of people in any field. Once you build one successful business, repeating this effect becomes easier as you build more businesses. What education prior to an Associate Degree gives you in the formal sense, is the art of problem solving and the art of finding information and figuring things out. Mostly this is found in High School level science and mathematics courses.
So what are the businesses for the future in Belize? Food processing in the small niche brand name is one. War is always good business and the invention, or the use of applied science to take pieces of easily available materials out of a catalogue and build a better, more effective weapon of killing people, has always been good business. In the two World War generations, this was heavy artillery, tanks and stuff of that sort. Restricting war technology to the industrialized nations. Today it is is exotic new weaponry requiring very little investment, just ideas and the will to experiment in a machine shop, or hire somebody good with computer software, or electronics. The Israelis invented the spy drone for instance, with only a small land area and a population of 2 million, by buying off the shelf products used to video tape football stadium games, by cameras used in sports blimps and make toys for radio controlled model airplanes. Some backyard garage tinkerer invented the .50 caliber marine sniper rifle and sold it to the CIA for example for manufacture. There are artisan type productions that will always have a market. Most nowadays are mass produced in factories in China though. Something unique would have a small market for a while, before the idea is stolen. About two years usually. If you can make a million of them and make $2 each, before your idea is stolen, you are still to the good as a business person. In business, you only have about 2 years before copy cat competitors ruin everything for you. Certainly some of the new technologies in nano-technology are going to take off, just waiting for some entrepreneur to put together scattered pieces of materials on the shelves and make something new. I just have been reaping in Belize some long red sweet chile peppers. I'm amazed at how easy they grow in dry season, when my lettuce and tomatoes are failing. You get a farmer to grow you a hundred acres of chile peppers and the entrepreneur business person would problem solve and figure out how to make cardboard boxes, ship them and market to the EU, or Canada Caribbean populations abroad. Payment by F.O.B letter of credit through a bank. Obviously here is another business just found out in the last three weeks, with potential in Belize. The CHINESE immigrants go into food stores, they figure locals have to eat. Good or bad times. The world populations are growing and they have to eat too. It just takes some problem solving of the entrepreneurial kind.
There are lots of opportunities for Belizeans. First we have to raise that Standard 4 primary school leaving statistic, showing 70% of our population are relatively uneducated. They can make it now, under current land rich, small population conditions, though the difficulties are already seen in Belize City particularly and some other towns of an uneducated class, of males and females. Since jobs per se are going to be always difficult in Belize to find, then we should concentrate on entrepreneurial type education, through the first two years of High School. Starting in Standard 5 and 6 of Primary school. We need to widen our early education curriculums, as 70% of our population in early education are not getting exposed to the world and taught what they need to survive. This offered solution does not fit all persons, but should cover the majority. From here it is up to the salaried politicians and the bureaucrats to find the solutions.

1 comment:

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