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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 05:14 AM EDT

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Calling All Expats: Learn Spanish for a Better Life in Panama

Schools & Education

50% off for Panama Residents at Habla Ya September 2014

If you're moving to Panama or already live here and can't speak a word of Spanish, you should really make an effort to learn some. I mean, you don't have to be completely fluent but being able to have a basic conversation does go a long way. Even a survival level of Spanish will gain you smiles, respect, better service and even friends.

So do your part, get out there and start practicing! A Spanish speaking friend and some classes will do wonders. Habla Ya Spanish Schools in Boquete and Bocas del Toro have this special Spring promotion for those who sign up during the entire month of September.

You'll basically get a 50% discount off any Spanish course of over 60 hours. One of Habla Ya's most popular courses for expats is their 10 week course (6 hours per week) at only $250 per student (that's just a bit more than $4 per hour at Panama's top rated Spanish school). This is only for expats that live in Panama so come and grab yourself a deal before they fill up!

If you don't live in Bocas or Boquete (they still don't have a school in Panama City, take 3 or 4 weeks for a Spanish learning vacation in the Caribbean or mountains of Chiriqui and do a more intensive course by taking 20 hours a week (4 per day).

You can find more info about the the promo here: http://www.hablayapanama.com/blog/2014/08/50-off-spanish-lessons-for-panama-residents-september-expat-course/

Editor's Comment: One day, many years ago, I was at the Arrocha pharmacy on Via España buying (whatever.) I was waiting to pay for my purchases when I heard some sort of kerfuffle at the other cash register, next to where I was standing at the front of the store. There was this old cranky pissed-off gringo there. He was about 6' 4" tall and about 75 years old. I don't know what his problem was, but when I looked over he was towering over the poor young Panamanian girl who was working the cash register - and with a very loud voice and threatening posture he yelled "... why don't you learn some GOD DAMNED ENGLISH!"

When I looked over, the first thing I saw was the cashier - pulled back in fear - afraid this great, big gringo was going to hit her or something. I interjected myself between him and her immediately. I mean, I physically placed myself between the guy, and the cashier. I quickly told him "hold on, let me talk to her for a second..."

Then I spun around and told the girl (in Spanish) "I apologize for this idiot. I have no idea what happened to him, why he's having a bad day, or why he's yelling at you. But obviously, that's inappropriate. If anything should learn anything, it's him and he should be learning some Spanish. You don't have to be afraid of him because he's not going to hurt you. I'm going to talk to him now. Are you OK?"

Her face melted in relief. She relaxed, and said "thank you, very much..."

I then turned around to face the idiot. I started with "listen, moron. I don't know what crawled up your ass, but you are WAY out of line. Do not come in here, screaming at these poor women who are working for minimum wage - they don't make enough money to put up with your bullshit. What's more, she doesn't understand what you're yelling about anyway. And if anyone should learn something it's you. Why don't you learn some GOD DAMNED SPANISH!" And at this point I was nose-to-nose with the geezer. He grabbed his shit, and huffed his way out of the door.

The Arrocha employees gave me a standing ovation as the moron departed the premises.

Living in a foreign country where English is not the primary language can be difficult, frustrating, and challenging. Learning Spanish can go a long way to ease your path, make you feel much more comfortable in your new adopted home, and reduce your frustration level. I'm fluent in Spanish (speaking, writing, conversation) - learning another language will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

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"I didn't work for myself, I worked for the country" - Lucy Molinar

Schools & EducationEducation Minister Lucy Molinar said she changed Panama's education system to create a structure ensuring the content of the curriculum is updated every two years. (more)

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Juan Carlos Varela Meets With Striking Teachers And Promises Dialog

Schools & EducationThe teachers' union leader, Yadira Pino, confirmed reports of having met with the president-elect Juan Carlos Varela, and they agreed to meetings in the coming days. (more)

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Lucy Molinar Calls Upon Teachers To Stay At Their Jobs on Friday

Schools & EducationA teachers union has made a call for a march on Friday, but the Minister of Education Lucy Molinar asked the teachers to remain on the job, but this has been rejected by the educators.

Molinar thinks it is unfair that students will miss classes as a result of the teacher's march, who have already asked parents to not send their children to schools on Friday.

"I respect their rights, but clarify, their duties should come first and their rights after," Molinar said.

Regarding the wage increase, Molinar said the idea is to do a self-assessment for educators.

She said the teachers in the province of Chiriqui will be the first to receive this wage increase because some schools in this province have already begun the self-assessments .

Educator Gloria Lopez wants the $300 wage increase to be paid without having to do the self evaluation, and the rest of the money should go towards making improvements in the schools. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: You have to give a lot of credit to Lucy Molinar. She has been fighting battles with these deeply entrenched teachers union (idiots) since day one. She is completely and totally focused on trying to improve the entire education system to the benefit of the students - not so much the teachers who work in the system. For too long, those who were getting paychecks were making all of the decisions on how things are done, and the students suffered. So now the government has agreed to give them pay increases, but these "self evaluations" are a requirement in order to receive the raise. So now the never ending dirtbags are protesting (and refusing to work) because they don't want to complete the self evaluations. Why? Because it will expose them for what they really are - substandard. Keep it up, Lucy. You're fighting the good fight.

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It's "Back To School" Day in Panama

Schools & EducationBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - It's always a big news day when children go back to school at the end of Panama's summer break.

This year - according to official records - 683,527 children will attend public schools, and 116,815 will attend private schools.

This school year will end on Friday, 19 December 2014, according to Executive Order No. 775 of August 27, 2013, signed by President Martinelli and Education Minister Lucy Molinar.

Here's a rundown of the school year calendar;

Organization: 17 - 21 Feb

First Quarter - 24 Feb to 30 May 2014. Holidays 3, 4, 5 March (carnivals), 17, 18 April (Easter), 1 May (Labor Day).

Break - 2 to 6 June 2014  

Second Quarter - June 9 to September 12. Holiday: 1 July (Presidential Inauguration)

Break - Sept 15 - 19

Third Quarter - Sept 22 to Dec 12. Holidays: 3, 4, 5, 10, 28 November National Holidays). Dec 8 Mother's Day. (Civic Days: Student's Day October 27, Teacher's Day December 1) (Panama America)

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Students Confronted Police Units On Their Second Day Of Strike

Schools & EducationA group of students from the National Institute took to the streets once again.

The students are protesting for the expulsion of some of their classmates who were involved in acts of vandalism in previous demonstrations. They are demanding to have their classmates reintegrated.

The students were throwing rocks and other objects against the police units who were trying to reestablish the order. The riot police units were spraying pepper gas against the protesters who were wearing hoods.

Today, the authorities of the institute and the students will have a meeting in order to reach an agreement. (Critica)

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Molinar: Note Sent By Crespo Is Only A Suggestion

Schools & EducationThe minister of Education, Lucy Molinar, explained the note sent by the vice minister of Education, Mirna de Crespo, to the Regional director, Federico Castro, about the National Institute, is just a suggestion, contrary to certain people who say their intention is to shut down the school.

In the note issued on October 24, the vice minister Crespo requests Castro “to analyze a valid proposal of eliminating the seventh grade of the National Institute for the year 2014.”

Minister Molinar said this is one of the several suggestions made by Crespo to start a plan in order to rescue “the good reputation of the National Institute.”

Molinar told TVN News they have made 8 to 9 suggestions, among these was to increase the academic level to be accepted in the National Institute, reducing the amount of students per class and evaluating the teachers of the school.

However, Molinar said all these suggestions were presented to the director in charge of the National Institute, and at the end any decision will be taken in consensus with the authorities of the school.

The education Minister said they have no intentions of shutting down the National Institute, but they do want to recover its image.

Even though the note says this decision must be taken as soon as possible to make the necessary readjustments before November 15, Molinar said there isn’t a final date, because these decisions must be consulted first. (TVN)

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Molinar Announced She Will Repeal The Decree 990

Schools & EducationIn the middle of the 2013 Ibero American Forefront Summit in Panama, the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar announced she would repeal the decree 990, through which they created the National Department of Institutional Security within the Meduca.

Reactions to this announcement from the teachers’ unions were not far behind. About the matter, the leader of the Association of Teachers in Veraguas, Yadira Pino, said this action was the most logical thing to do.

According to Pino, the regulation was not justified because there is an institution for this already.

She believes Molinar has not shown to be capable of administrating the Meduca, which is why she is sure she took this decision after the society rejected the action of abuse of force taken against the teachers. (Panama America)

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Molinar: "There Is A Serious Violence Issue In The Institute"

Schools & Education"All the work carried out by the education system has been fogged by a group of people,” said the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar.

At the Institute there is a serious violence issue and regardless of our attempts of handling this situation through other means we reached a point in which we had to take strong measures or otherwise we would regret it.

She explained there is a hate and violence culture with other interests. “I would love to recover the previous record of the Nest of Eagles [National Institute],” he said. (Panama America)

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Parents Reject The Action By The Police On The Students

Schools & EducationThe president of the parents club of the National Institute (IN), Carlos Rivera, rejected the way the National Police (PN) acted upon their entrance to the school, after receiving an order from the Education Ministry (Meduca) and arrested over 50 students.

"They took students that were in the middle of class, both good and bad, they took innocents; I despise the attitude of the National Guard,” he said.

He said it is quite interesting that the officials from the Meduca assure they have identified criminal bands but are not acting legally.

Rivera says “it seems the intention of the educational entity is shutting down the school.”

On the other hand, the vice minister of education, Mirna de Crespo, said the education center will not be closed because there is no time to recover class and it is not fair to affect the students due to the acting of third parties.

Earlier, the second lieutenant and chief of Minor Police, Erlin Miranda, said a total of 59 students were arrested and 5 of them were adults. He said those who were arrested were found with evidence linking them to the protests (masks and hammers).

Regarding the use of force applied to arrest the students, she said it was necessary because they were resisting. “The Meduca and the education center made this request because the students were assaulting people,” she said.

Some tried to escape, but the fast action of the police prevented this from happening.

On the other hand, Antonio Cañate, chief of security of the Meduca, said there was no other option tan authorizing the PN to enter the school and arrest the students.

He said the arrested students will be processed by the Minor Police. Several people were affected by the tear gas. (Panama America)

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