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Thursday, July 24 2014 @ 08:25 AM EDT

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Education Minister Molinar Sticks With Curriculum Reforms

Schools & Education "We will not stop." Panama's Education Minister, Lucy Molinar, said she has no intention of stopping her plans to overhaul the national eduction curriculum, although leaders of teachers' unions established a deadline of 5 April to stop. Molinar said "we have to abandon these methods", regarding the statements of the union leaders. On Friday, Andrés Rodríguez challenged both the Minister and Deputy Minister Mirna Crespo to take a lie detector test. Molinar pointed to her recent participation in an international forum, where once again it was demonstrated that the region of Latin America is making progress in the education sector, while Panama remains behind. With regard to visits being made by teachers union leaders to public schools where the new curriculum is being implemented, Molinar said there should be no unrest. She also said they are keeping close track of teacher attendance, and those teachers who do not report to work will not be paid. She went on to say this has always been the case. (Source - Telemetro Reporta)

Editor's Comment: This power struggle between a handful of rebel public school teachers (who are not in the majority) and the Minister of Education has been going on for decades. These same people - who bill themselves as being teachers union leaders - are simply another group of perennial trouble makers who come back time and time again, like a bad burrito. This time they are complaining over efforts being made by the Ministry of Education to modernize the public school curriculum, mostly because they are lazy and they don't want to be forced to learn new stuff (so they can teach it to the kids.) My position on this one is easy. In every classroom there is just one teacher and about 30 kids - so the government should be doing whatever is best for the kids and their (voting) parents will back it up when push comes to shove. Once again, public policy through doing what's the best for the most = staying in power. However, this whole thing could come to a head on or about 5 April 2010, when the "deadline" hits.

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Education Minister Threatens to Sanction Teachers

Schools & EducationAfter receiving anonymous threats, hearing derogatory terms, receiving groundless charges and accusations, and claims from several school directors from around the country who have been victimized by different groups of teachers in the schools over the implementation of the project to transform the school curriculum, Panama's Education Minister Lucy Molinar said she would make use of all legal remedies allowed by the Constitution. Molinar said her administration is open to dialog but she will not tolerate that on a whim, a group of educators decide they want to "remain in the past century" and not catch up with the times, affecting the nation's student population. Molinar also called upon society to focus on the Panamanian students, recognizing that on the way they will meet resistance. The law states that sanctions could range from a verbal reprimand to dismissal, based on Decree 681 and 618 of the Organic Law of Education. (Source - La Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Lucy Molinar is trying to implement changes to the school curriculum for public (and private?) schools in Panama, and her efforts have been meeting stiff resistance from teachers' groups. Basically, there are a lot of teachers who are set in their ways and they don't want to have to change anything, learn anything new, or do anything different. And, I think Molinar is right - the effort should be focused on the needs of the students, not the desires of the teachers (to be lazy.)

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"Back To School Day" Screws Up Traffic in Panama City

Schools & EducationThe start of the new school year today caused traffic jams in some parts of Panama City this morning, in spite of the operations conducted by the Transit Authority and Traffic Police. José Domingo Díaz Avenue was opened to allow for three lanes of vehicles to enter the city and one to leave towards the suburbs. The same measure was applied to Via Israel, with only one lane headed out of the city starting from 76th Street as far as the old school of Las Esclavas, in an effort to streamline the flow of traffic in the areas around Paitilla, said Jaime Braddick, the National Director of Transportation of the ATTT. He added they would be opening the third lane from Villa Lucre to Villa de las Fuentes until 8:30 am every morning. Braddick warned bus drivers that they can only charge students 10 cents to ride the bus. He said they have given special permits to "ferry" buses to transport students, however these vehicles must have special permission and they cannot play music. He also talked about an accident in Chanis, apparently caused by a drunk driver. This accident affected the flow of traffic to the Southern Corridor. Transit Authority officers will be deployed in th area of the Rubiano school to assist in the flow of traffic there. In spite of these operations, some buses suffered mechanical problems, forcing many passengers to get off through the back door and to try to get on the next bus, which was already completely full. (Source - TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: Today is "back to school day" for the entire Republic of Panama. Hundreds of thousands of students and their parents headed off to a new school year this morning, and traffic was all hosed up in many parts of the city, as it is every year on this day. Within a week or two people will settle down to their new routines. Bus drivers for private schools will know where the kids live. Parents will have their kids into a routine. And, traffic patterns will return to somewhat normal. The next phase of this cluster will happen this afternoon at about 2:00 pm when all of these kids get out of their first day of classes.

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Teachers Head Off To Remote Areas - Despite Fears About Security

Schools & EducationPublic school teachers began reaching the schools where they will be teaching this year in the Darien province near Panama's border with Colombia, however they are concerned about their safety and security and that they might be assaulted because there is not enough security in the area, after a series of intrusions by Colombian guerrillas. Thirteen teachers were sent to the town of Jaque in the province of Darien, and from there they will travel on the the schools in the remote communities where they will work, and in most cases the only way to get there is by rivers or via boats on the ocean. For some it will take them more than two hours to reach Cocalito, a small coastal fishing village, where the incursion of guerrillas is no secret. Among some of the more distant villages are the schools at Mamey and Guayabito and to get there the teachers have to go over trails and dangerous roads. All teachers will be at their positions and ready to work in time for Monday, 8 March 2010, the start of the new school year, with the hopes that the conflicts in the region don't reach them. (Source: TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: Every year at this time there is a nationwide deployment of public school teachers, who head off into the most remote parts of the country to work. There are small little public schools in even the most remote and hardest to reach areas of the country. The National Air Service has been flying these teachers to the closest airfields all week. From there it's often a canoe ride to a trial head, and then horseback for a couple of hours up a trail to downtown Boondocks. And when they get there, there's often no electricity or drinking water, a general lack of everything, and so on. It's a yearly migration pattern that repeats itself every year at this time. And for the record, traffic in Panama City will be a complete and total cluster on Monday morning, 8 March 2010, so plan accordingly.

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Students Will Have To Return Laptop Computers

Schools & EducationBy Alberto Pinto for Mi Diario - There is no turning back. The graduating students will have to return the laptops loaned to them at the beginning of this school year. Yesterday the Deputy Minister of Education, Mirna de Crespo said that students and parents should honor the contract they signed upon receiving the computer. "So that a better Panama will reach all, we must enforce compliance with this agreement because there are others who are waiting for this help," she said. She said that for the next school year there are many students to expect to benefit from having a laptop computer and therefore they must recover all those that were loaned out. The 2010 budget for MEDUCA does not contemplate the purchase of any new laptop computers for this program. The Vice Minister said she was unaware if any students have been threatened with not receiving their grades and graduation documents if they fail to return the computers. "We have only recommended to the school directors that they should enforce compliance with the contracts," she said. The administration of Martin Torrijos loaned about 10,000 computers to graduating students for a year and thus far about 100 have been reported as stolen. (Editor's Comment: This is a good program and it allows graduating high school students access to information technology they otherwise would not have had. But, the government could to it both ways. If students want to keep the computers why not give them very low cost student loans from the Banco Nacional with easy payments. Like, $15 dollars per month for 36 months. That way the students can keep the computers if they want to, and anyone who wants to give them back can. The next batch of graduating students will get new equipment, and off we go.)
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Panamanian Education System Receives Failing Grades

Schools & Education By Rolando David Delgado for El Siglo - The need to transform the education system in Panama grows every day, and a new report grading the eduction systems from across Latin America reveals the poor state of primary education in the country. Panama scored very low in subjects such as Spanish, mathematics and science, compared with other countries in the region such as Cuba, Argentina and Chile, which lead the list of countries with the best educational systems and strategies. The statistics behind the report of the Second Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study of Learning Achievement (SERCE) were explained yesterday by Arturo Rivera, the National Director of Educational Assessment, who said other countries have invested in technology which has resulted in students having more interest in school and grades. The study looked at some 156 schools, 559 teachers and more than 13 thousand students in third to sixth grade. Importantly, this is the first time Panama has participated in the study which lasted from 2005 to 2007. Panama's Minister for Education, Lucy Molinar, confessed to being alarmed by the results, however, the study is successful she says, because it helps to orient her on the status of the education system and to identify where the system's deficiencies lie. According to Molina, in the summer teachers will be given training in English, mathematics, Spanish, and science as a first step to counter the situation. BEST SYSTEMS - In South America Argentina, Chile, and Colombia are the countries leading the list. In Central America Costa Rica and El Salvador are on top while Panama is in the basement. The only countries worse than Panama are Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. (Editor's Comment: Well, what do you expect when the scumbags who have been managing the public education system here for decades have been more interested in stealing public funds than improving the school system. Again, there's much to do, starting with prosecutions and convictions. The nice part about being on the bottom is there's no place to go but up, right?)
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Kuna Indians Released Kidnapped MEDUCA Regional Director

Schools & Education By Chris Yee for El Siglo - Panama's Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) and the Kuna Indians reached an agreement. The members of the Kuna Yala community in Ustupu decided to release the Regional Director of Education, Flumensio Smith, after they reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education. At 8:00 pm yesterday evening, authorities from MEDUCA and the insurer responsible for the work being done at the school, remained in a meeting to establish dates when the repairs on the school will begin, according to a report released by the Minster of Education, Lucy Molinar. She stressed that repairs to the "Nelé Kantule" school have been pending for more than four years, but it was not until now that the insurance company responsible for the work finally answered the call. Molinar regrets that in Panama problems have to be settled in this way. Smith was deprived of his freedom on Monday, and the condition for his release was the repair the school which is in bad condition. (See Comments)
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Lucy Molinar Accepts Martinelli's Nomination As Minister of Education

Schools & Education By Meredith Serracín for La Critica - With tears in her eyes and an explanation about how difficult the decision was for her to make, Lucy Molinar, the anchor of TVN's Channel 2 morning news program, left her colleagues to accept the invitation given by Panama's President-elect Ricardo Martinelli, to become the next Minister of Education. Molinar said she would be meeting today Martinelli, saying "I am at the most difficult moment of my life, but I feel that sometimes you have to take a risk and I am on the verge of doing so," she said. Carlos Staff has been designated as the Vice Minister of Education.
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School Repairs in Question as Kids Return to Classes

Schools & Education

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Today thousands of Panamanian children who attend public schools returned to classes for the 2009 school year, amid widespread allegations of schools not being ready to receive them. This is a news story that seems to repeat itself every year as the Ministry of Education tries to improve how they manage the nation's educational facilities. The fact that there have been four different Ministers of Education during the administration of Martin Torrijos has not helped. The government has thrown a lot of money at school infrastructure and improvements, and most of the complaints stem from poor contract administration, and the failure of contractors to build what they signed up to do. The contractors blame the Ministry of Education for not paying them on time, and the kids are left in the lurch.

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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2009 School Year Dates Defined

Schools & EducationBy URANIA CECILIA MOLINA for La Prensa - Students in public schools in Panama will spend less time this year in the classroom, and in addition they will only have a short one week break at mid-year. The Minister of Education, Salvador Rodríguez, said yesterday president Martin Torrijos signed Executive Decree Number 15 of 17 February 2009 that determines the dates of this years scholastic calendar. Public schools will begin on Monday 6 April, and will finish on 23 December 2009. Graduating students will finish classes on 18 December and their graduation ceremonies will be held between 28 and 30 December. Students who attend private schools will start classes on 9 March and will finish on 18 December. Graduates will finish classes on 11 December and their graduation ceremonies will be held between December 21 and 23. The Minister said that in the private schools the directors will have the option of dividing the scholastic calendar into two or three month blocks of time, but in the public schools they will only work in two month blocks. Andres Rodriguez, Secretary General of the Association of Professors of the Republic of Panama, announced that they will request this executive decree to be declared invalid, because it violates the basic law on Education. According to Rodriguez, article 30 of this norm prevents the Minister of Education from defining two different scholastic calendars. On the other hand, the minister talked about the subject of repairs to the schools. He said that about 95% of the 500 public schools in Panama in which work is being completed are ready for the start of classes.
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