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Saturday, August 30 2014 @ 08:28 AM EDT

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Education Minister Will Stick With New, Transparent, Teacher Assignment System

Schools & EducationThe Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar defended the new virtual system for the appointment of teachers, saying that in this way there will be greater transparency, and she criticized those who oppose it. Minister Molinar regretted that no one will protest because the teachers were either charged or asked for favors in order to be named (to a position), despite having qualifications and meeting all requirements. Molinar said she humbled many teachers, telling them that no one should demand anything from them (in order to get a job), and with the new virtual process everyone can keep track of appointments. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Yeah! Go, Lucy! Breaking the back of yet another ingrained corrupt practice that has been going on in Panama for decades. It used to be that a small group of power brokers in the Ministry of Education could control who went to work where. If you paid a bribe you could get an appointment to a good school, closer to your house, better working conditions, work with your friends, or what have you. Even if maybe that person was not the most qualified for that position. However if you didn't play the game or pay a bribe you would be assigned to a remote one room schoolhouse in the Darien somewhere, and the people pulling the strings who hated you were really hoping you would quit and go away, even though you might be the most qualified teacher in the entire system. Yeah, this is a good thing. Transparency, used to break corruption. Go figure. And who's opposed to this change? Why, those who benefited from the old system, of course.

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Public School Teachers Using Forged Documents - More Than 80 Cases Discovered

Schools & EducationOn the first day of classes more than 80 cases of counterfeit or falsified documents have been detected, mainly in the Panama Regional Centre, confirmed Silvia Guerra, director in charge of Human Resources of the Ministry of Education. Guerra explained that teachers have arrived at several schools with documents bearing an irregular signature, which appears to be that of Maria Montaner, the Director of the Panama Regional Center, and it was found that her signature had been forged. The official reported that 68 cases have been detected in Central Panama, and another 21 cases in Western Panama, Veraguas and Chiriqui. The irregularities will be investigated and reported administratively for the appropriate action before the Public Ministry. (Telemetro)
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Protesting Indians Block Road - 60 School Teachers Can't Get To Work

Schools & EducationProtesting indigenous Indians closed the road this morning to Llano Ñopo, preventing the public school teachers who were trying to reach about 30 schools in the area from getting to their places of work. They are more than six townships in the area of the region which at present cannot be accessed due to the closure of the road by the Indians. According Toribio Garcia, an indigenous leader, they will keep the road to Llano Ñopo closed until the National Government passes the special Law for the region. They want a stop to all mining and hydroelectric projects. Due to this protest about 60 public school teachers have been unable to reach their schools on Monday, the first day of classes throughout the country. The Indians also pointed out that most schools in the district are makeshift huts for parents, and that is where the children receive their lessons. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Can someone explain to me how keeping a public school teacher from reaching a school puts additional pressure on the National Government. I think the government should say "screw that" and bring the teachers back to Panama City. It's simply not safe to have them in this area of conflict until the issues are resolved. And who suffers for the acts of the Indians? Their own children. Dumb. Just plain stupid. Oh, wait a minute...

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There Are 2.2 Million "Ninis" In Central America

Schools & EducationThere are approximately 2.2 million young people in Central America who are between the ages of 12 and 24 who neither work nor study, and they are commonly known as "ninis." This information comes from the Fourth Report of the State of the Region, which indicates that most of the 'Ninis' are located in rural regions of the seven Central American countries, mainly in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Of all the 'Ninis', 1.2 million live in rural areas, according to the report, and 1.7 million are women. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: The name "nini" comes from the Spanish words to describe people in this condition that they ni estudia ni trabaja" - which translates to the "neither study nor work." The "ni-ni" grammatical structure is commonly used to describe people in this state, so they are called "ninis". The number of people in this condition commonly follows the state of the economy - better economic conditions and more opportunities translates to fewer "ninis" in any particular country. Obviously the goal is to have the younger kids in school and older people working. This category of "ninis" starts at age 12 because it's common in the poorer areas to pull kids out of school after 6th grade to make them work around the house.

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New Mandatory Retirement Age Set For University of Panama Professors

Schools & Education Starting this year the professors at the University of Panama who are 75 years old or older will not be able to teach classes, which has them annoyed. Miguel Antonio Bernal said this is a violation of their rights, because the university wants to hire people who are not prepared to teach. Similarly he said teachers of this age have great knowledge and they prepare the university students as they should be. (Dia a Dia)
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Education Minister Says It Would Be A "Crime" To Make Kids Stay Home

Schools & Education"Why do we hurt the kids? Sometimes I do not understand", said Education Minister Lucy Molinar on Thursday, reacting to an announcement made by the Indian Coordinator, who said they are analyzing the possibility of not sending their children to school on Monday, 27 February 2012. Molinar said this would be a "crime" and she said the students would be affected more than the government. "Besides the fact that we do not have the quality (of education) that we would like them to have, on top of that were are going to punish them by leaving them at home," she said. She said in addition to sending a negative message that they cannot find solutions in a "civilized manner" in education, the hours lost are difficult to retrieve. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: The school year starts in Panama on Monday, 27 February 2012, and the protesting Indians said they might order their children to stay at home. Smart. That'll teach Martinelli a thing or two... (what?)

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Public School System Getting Spun Up For The New School Year

Schools & EducationRodrigo Andrade, the regional director of the Ministry of Education, responded to the complaints of teachers who work in areas that are difficult to reach who are supposed to be in training, but said there are no trainers available. According to Andrade, each area had to be responsible for each educational region. In that regard he added that he is only responsible for Veraguas, and the rest of the areas said they would send the remaining facilitators. However, the teachers who are being trained insist that even by the second day of the seminar no facilitators attended. It was learned that in Sona the teachers have been attending the seminars for two days, without having been attended. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: The teachers are supposed to be receiving a couple of weeks of training before the start of the school year. With more than a thousand schools and thousands of teachers, certainly something was going to fell through the cracks. Looks like it happened in Sona, at least.

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Education Minister Tells of "Tales of Terror" In School Repair Contracts

Schools & Education"Tales of Terror" was the phrase used by the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar, to describe the inadequate rehabilitation work being done by companies in certain schools. At present, the Meduca has opened 17 legal proceedings against the companies who have not complied with the rules of contracts, especially with the date of delivery of projects. Molinar admitted that not all schools will be ready for the new school year, in terms of maintenance. Meduca now only allows contracted repair work to be done on schools where they can place an inspector. Before, MEDUCA would grant contracts to companies specifying expensive materials, but then the companies would install cheaper floors, toilets and sinks that do not meet the basic requirements for the frequency of use, considering the levels of heavy use of the bathrooms in schools. "Before the contracts were granted and no one watched the quality of this work," Molinar reported. She noted there are schools that have the same electrical systems that were installed 25 years ago.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Association of Teachers of Panama (Asoprof), Andres Rodriguez said this year the Meduca has scheduled the rehabilitation of schools nationwide. Rodriguez also said Meduca left the responsibility to the individual school principals for general (routine) repairs, using the Fund for Fairness and Quality of Education (FECE), which is for minor repairs of schools, for example, fixing doors or building new classrooms. "There are schools in Panama City that have problems of water, electricity, and bathrooms. The most recent case is that of the American Institute which does not have a roof," he said.

However, Minister Molinar said she has already spoken with the company about the situation at the American Institute and they agreed upon a work schedule that requires the contractor to have the classrooms ready. "Only one classroom will be without a roof for just one day, because the contractor was asked to do the additional work," said Molinar.

Across the country, the Meduca has contracted for improvement or maintenance work to 139 schools, and of those 72 projects have been delivered, said the National Chief of Maintenance, Guillermo Bernal. It was also learned that during 2012, Meduca is scheduled to improve 1,100 public school campuses around the country, purchasing materials programs for minor repairs through the FECE program, and using prison inmates on work release programs, in addition to the contracts that have been granted for the construction and repair schools. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Of all of the Ministers in the government of Ricardo Martinelli, it is my personal opinion that Lucy Molinar is doing the best job.

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Teacher's Union Leader Says MEDUCA Not Ready For Start of 2012 School Year

Schools & Education According to the teachers' union leader Luis Lopez, the Ministry of Education is not ready to start the 2012 school year. He said several colleagues who work in difficult to reach areas fear transportation will not be available to take them to their schools. Lopez also said there are not enough teachers available to teach classes. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: The 2012 school year in Panama is supposed to start soon. They lost a week of preparation time in some areas due to the strike. But whatever the challenges, I'm sure the officials at the Ministry of Education will be addressing the problems and shortcomings. I'm also sure the leaders of the teacher's union won't pass up any opportunity to toss stones at the management. It's the game they play. The kids will go to school and get the best education available in the public school system in Panama, such as it is. Not to take anything away from the Minister of Education Lucy Molinar - she's fighting like hell to make improvements and upgrades (applause), with the teacher's union fighting and kicking and resisting and screaming the whole way (boo).

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Molinar: It Was A Legitimate Message

Schools & EducationThe modernization of the education system in Panama was among the many issues raised during the recent Bishops Conference. Among those attending the activity was the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar, who said this has been her goal since the first day she took office. "Of course, this is the task we have been working on since day one," she said. Molinar justified the Church's message Panama. "I think it's a legitimate statement, it's correct, from someone who cares about the country. I think we should all think about it," she said. The minister declined to comment on whether or not this statement would have anything to do with the latest developments in national politics, saying she made ​​a commitment to not allow these kinds of issues to intrude on education. "Despite the passion I have inside about it, I have to honor my word," said Molinar, who initially tried to shun the media as she left the conference of the bishops. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: I have no idea why the career journalist Lucy Molinar would try to "shun" or avoid the media. She just drips with credibility and respectability. One gets the impression she would rather have her left arm torn off and eaten by a puma, than to steal a single dime of the government's money. She does not want to get involved in the day to day political brawls (this week - the resignation of Bosco Vallarino) and she only wants to talk about improving the education system in Panama. Of course she knows the media will ask her about the political crap, simply because she's a minister on Martinelli's cabinet. However, she should just stand there, smile, and reply with "why are you asking me about that? I'm the Minister of Education. Would you like to talk about the new and modernized curriculum? The money we've spent to build new schools or improve the existing infrastructure? The universal scholarship program? Continuing education programs to improve the skills of our teachers?" In other words, ignore the politics, and talk about the improvements she has made to the education system, which are many and substantial. If she wanted to get political, she could start off with "You know, since the last two Ministers of Education from the PRD administration of Martin Torrijos were arrested and thrown in prison for embezzlement, we've been able to make a whole lot of progress to fix the damage they left behind..."

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