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Jul 16, 2004

Belize’s ranking plummets on Human Dev. index

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The annual Human Development Report has been released by the United Nations Development Programme…and the news for Belize is not good. Our ranking among one hundred and seventy-seven countries, which was as high as number fifty-four in 2001 and slipped to sixty-seven last year, has now plummeted to ninety-nine. The reason for the precipitous drop is due largely to a correction in the figure used for our literacy rate. In the past, we claimed a rate of ninety-three point four percent, but in the wake of the most recent census are now using the more realistic figure of seventy-six point nine. The Human Development Index is based on factors such as life expectancy, educational achievement and standard of living. In the area of literacy, Belize uses a definition, which defines a literate person as anyone who has completed standard five. Globally the most common definition is: “the percentage of people fifteen years and older who can, with understanding, both read and write a simple statement related to everyday life.” Norway ranked number one on the Human Development Index while Sierra Leone was last. Within CARICOM, only Guyana and Haiti ranked below Belize. In Central America, only Panama, and Costa Rica ranked above Belize.

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