Thursday, September 20, 2012

BELIZE GOVERNMENT STATISTICAL ECONOMICAL DATA PROBLEMS 2012.

Belize government having problems with competency of the bureaucracy.

  Very revealing interview on Channel 5 tv locally, with two representatives from the STATISTICS DEPARTMENT.  They said they were having trouble compiling statistics on each government department and the best they can do is either ONCE A YEAR, or perhaps TWICE A YEAR, for economical reporting on the current condition of government.  From the questions and answers, it seemed only 10% of the government ministries and departments are using software designed especially for them to compile statistical data. 90% of the bureaucratic departments were dysfunctional in the modern computer age sense.  They were doing alright statistical recording, but using antique methods of paper collecting.  PILES AND PILES of data on paper, but the size of the bureaucracy is not big enough to extract the data from the piles of paper records and use them.  COMPUTER DATA ENTRY is a flaw in current government operations.
  From this we extrapolated that HIGH SCHOOLS are not teaching the skills, of typing.  It takes about the first two years of high school, or last two years of primary school, to teach the manual skills of typing at a passing grade of 65 words per minute.  Takes at least an hour a day practice and perhaps two hours a day.  So the schools are failing in this.
  The next thing, while computers have been given to every department and internet access, the skill sets of the current bureaucracy are such, that they do not know how to use current software programs, such as EXCEL, or OFFICE type software.  Most departments do not have specialized software for recording data, and making backups daily, designed by local Belizean software designers, especially for that use.  So clerical staff are simply using the old tried and true paper writing method.  Which does not lend itself to the advantageous instantaneous, labor saving product of computer recording.  I get this picture in my mind, of India, with tens of thousands of clerks recording data on paper at desks in dusty offices with the overhead fans rotating.  Unfortunately, in Belize we cannot afford the number of clerks to do even this and in order to get workable timely statistical economical reporting, computer data entry has to be same minute, same hour of the day type thing, to be useful.  Apparently the clerks we hire for these bureaucracies are not either competent, which would be a fault of the education system, or the organization of the departments is not good enough in structure, or they lack the software designed to facilitate their daily data in a meaningful manner.  Apparently the clerks cannot jury rig making their own systems, using EXCEL or other software programs.
  Software programs come out every two or three years, and have to be relearned each time. They are usually greatly expanded.  A clerk that cannot automatically shift between software programs, and teach themselves as they go along, would be incompetent by current modern day standards.  That means the tertiary educational system is at fault.  It may mean that there has to be rotation in department clerks, and incompetent ones let go.  It is a proven fact, it is more difficult to teach yourself to keep up to date, while on the job, rather than just find the clerks obsolete and hire new ones fresh out of school and current in skills and technology.
  Interestingly enough, the idea of introducing computer learning through district, town and village libraries fell flat on it's face.  The basic problem and it has not been licked yet.  Is that libraries when they get computers invariably have gone into competition, with internet cafes.  They have been charging to use the computer and internet and library managers explain, that the equipment has to be serviced, which is expensive. So they need to sell the service, rather than give away the service FREE. The whole purpose of computers in LIBRARIES is to make it free, so poor people, 90% of the population can upgrade themselves by learning new things and teaching themselves.  The moment a library starts any kind of FEE process, it automatically collapses the INTENT of such a program.  Like a balloon pricked with a pin. The LIBRARY allowance is insufficient to look after these costs, so while the original intention was good, practical considerations of servicing equipment, when a library has no money and is working from donations and cake sales, etc, is self defeating.  The government being flat broke and over a 100% of GDP in debt, does not look like this program will EVER work.
  While we can ponder the Belize bureaucracy and the quality of education they are forced to hire as clerks, it is beneficial to remember that; 80% of the population of Belize have NEVER finished primary school.  Our local Standard 6, or North American Grade 8.   We don't have the statistics and the Education Department is one of the major departments that actually do have statistics, how many young people QUIT primary school, and at what age and level?  But it is fairly safe to say; 52% of the population of Belize have NEVER finished Standard 4, or Grade 5, in North American parlance.
  We need not feel too ashamed, because the UK our original COLONIAL EMPIRE POWER, has now been downgraded from a FIRST WORLD INDUSTRIAL STATE, to a SECOND WORLD STATUS.  Much of their food processing exports domination has gone with the wind.  Nowadays, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Colombia, and Sri Lanka have replaced their supremacy in both food processing methods and industrial manufacturing methods.

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