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Thursday, April 17 2014 @ 08:34 AM EDT

Differences Over The Commission of Guarantees (Teachers Strike)

Schools & EducationDespite the agreement signed yesterday to ensure they comply, differences surfaced again between the Ministry of Education officials and spokesmen representing public school teachers regarding the role of the Commission of Guarantors, with the participation of the Church, in an interview on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast. The Director of Personnel of the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) Silvia Garcia said on the commission the Catholic Church and the lawyers representing the teachers who have been fired will have a role as observers in order to guarantee the compliance with due process, and the role of the Ministry of Education will be to create the climate so that the process can continue in accordance to the rule of law.

Joaquin Rodriguez, of the Veraguas Educators Association, said they must abide by any decision adopted by the commission. However, after listening to the statements made by Garcia, Rodriguez said an external Commission is necessary as a Conciliation Board because he believes the teachers are defenseless. Rodriguez said it should not be that a single Principal in a school is the one who can investigate, punish, and reconsider the decision on the expulsion of a teacher.

Garcia reiterated that the Commission will oversee the process of the teachers who have been dismissed, including Professor Andres Rodriguez. Some cases have already been elevated to the MEDUCA, while that of Professor Rodriguez has not yet left the Education Center where he worked (Colegio Abel Bravo). Garcia reiterated that teachers on the Staff Selection Committee of Bocas del Toro who had been dismissed will be reinstated in their functions as educators. She said they had been removed, but at the end of time for which they had been designated to the Staff Selection Committee has expired, so they will be moved to the classrooms. These educators from Bocas del Toro had submitted a guarantee protection in the courts and administrative resources in the MEDUCA, but these have not been resolved because the Ministry of Education could do nothing.

Both Garcia and Rodriguez agreed that something must be done in order to recover the time lost in classes due to the strike. Rodriguez said the MEDUCA should use the same formula that has been used when teachers go to workshops.

Euclid Mendez, of the Education Observation organization, suggested that the teachers could catch up on weekends or increase the intensity of the material, with tables summarizing methods, in order to not put additional pressure on the students. Mendez said the teachers want to talk to the Minister Molinar on the issue of the quality of education, because the curriculum transformation fails, because it does not have as its axis an emphasis on teaching the students how to think. According to Mendez, only 32 percent of students pass the reasoning test used to enter the University of Panama. She said one of every two students did not pass the test of reading comprehension, the written communication test, and they have problems with language and reasoning. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: OK, so that answers the question I had about what they are going to be doing about Andres Rodriguez. Right now the problem the teachers had is that one single person - the principal at the school where he worked - was the one who opened the investigation against him, decided to fire him, and also was the one who reconsidered (and probably denied) his appeal. Now they have created this higher level board to review those decisions in the case of Rodriguez and other teachers who have been fired, and the Catholic Church and the lawyers representing the fired teachers acting as observers to ensure due process. So the bottom line basically remains the same. If Rodriguez was, in fact, fired because be broke the law, then he's gone. Strike's over. Have a nice day. In the end of the day the rest of the teachers backed him up to the point of ensuring he got a fair "trial" or review of his case, and that's fair. But the bottom line won't change. I like it...

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