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Monday, July 28 2014 @ 08:33 PM EDT

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Getting Schools Ready For New Year Of Classes

Schools & EducationThe Academic Vice Minister of Education, Mirna de Crespo, said today the entity is making efforts to get schools ready for Monday February 25, the day scheduled for the beginning of the new school year, but she also admitted that not all of the schools will be ready.

"Professor Lopez (referring to criticism launched by the teachers' union leader Luis Lopez) knows that 100% of the schools has never been ready for the first day of school, and that each school has a different specification," she said.

De Crespo revealed that 900 schools are on a list waiting to be repaired and that they are building more classrooms.

According to the official, the MEDUCA is waging "an impossible fight", colored by how accessible are the schools in the capital city and those in remote locations. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: This is another one of those "happens every year at this time" stories. In the week before the start of the academic school year, there will be news articles about how many schools are ready, repairs that are being done, etc.

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2.2% Of Panamanian Youth Can't Read or Write

Schools & Education Illiterate youth accounted for 2.2% of the young population of the country, although some who were able to attend school several years still failed to learn to read or write, according to the Multi Purpose Survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Census, in March 2012.

An analysis by the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the results of this survey, contrasts this number of youths with the fact that obligatory education in Panama begins with pre-school (two years), continues with the basic or primary education (six years), and ends at the pre-middle or junior high school (three years). Therefore, all students should be receiving a total of 11 years of compulsory education.

In 1995, only primary school was compulsory. As with the obligatory levels, middle school or the higher levels of high school is free of charge at public schools.

Most young people have achieved what is required in the Constitution of the country for compulsory education. According to the Survey, the years of education averaged 11.0 for young people across the country. However, these results vary by area and provinces. Young people in urban areas on average received 3.3 years more of education than those who live in the countryside.

In some provinces, the average years of education of young people exceeded or were equal to the national average; in Panama (11.8), Los Santos (11.4) and Chiriqui (11.2 years). But other accumulated fewer years of education, mainly in Darien (8.4 years) and in the indigenous regions (all under 7 years).

In the MEF study, it is highlighted that women gained more years of eduction (11.3 years) than men (10.6 years), and that 60.5% reached high school or attend college, compared to 51.9% of men. Inequalities were observed in favor of female literacy, especially among those who lived in the indigenous regions and the provinces of Bocas del Toro and Darien. The most dramatic difference was in the Ngöbe Buglé, where the rate of illiteracy among youth reached 24.6%, and 8.7% among men.

56.3% of young people across the country managed to finish high school and move on to the university level, or non-university higher (vocational) education. In urban areas the proportion (66.9%) was double that of rural areas (33.6%).

The reasons for higher education in urban areas could be related to the fact that many schools are located closer to communities, there is a greater vigilance to ensure compliance with the compulsory education at the basic and pre-middle levels, and the better economic conditions in households.

Significantly, in the indigenous regions, the proportion of young people complete secondary education and higher education was lower: 7.9% in the Embera, 10.5% in the Kuna Yala and 11.7% in the Ngobe Bugle. Specifically, most in Kuna Yala managed to complete primary school and advance to some years of secondary school.

The Embera and Ngobe Bugle, a larger proportion of young people failed to finish primary education or the most they accomplished was to complete that level. The lower level of education in the indigenous regions was associated with the economic constraints of their homes, the distance from their homes to schools, language barriers, the involvement of minors in household enterprises, all factors which prevent or limit their school attendance. (Estrella)

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Five Stars Academy - A Certified Full-English School Just 20 Minutes From Coronado

Schools & EducationThe Five Stars Academy in the Republic of Panama is a full-English school certified by Panama’s Minister of Education offering a U.S. based curriculum from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 9.

We are conveniently located in Santa Clara, in Panama's Cocle province, just 20 minutes from the entrance to Coronado, to serve the Pacific beach community.

Our teachers are US citizens who have obtained their Master's of Education certification in the United States, who bring their experience, training, and education to every aspect of the classroom.

Panama, Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Ireland, Mexico, Israel, Ukraine, Chile, Canada, and the U.S. - All of these countries are represented at our school by the student population.

Our student population represents many different backgrounds but these families have one thing in common … the desire for an international education in Panama provided by highly-qualified and enthusiastic American teachers.

Five Stars Academy focuses intensely on the fundamentals of Math, Language Arts, Science, History, Spanish and Composition WHILE exploring the free-spirit in all of our kids. Our students are avid surfers, tennis players, swimmers and explorers. We're kind of a "hippy school" without veering away from the fundamentals of education. We teach our kids to not only survive but thrive in any challenging situation they might face in life - we teach them to think for themselves first and foremost.

Our second semester of the school year begins on Monday, January 14, 2013. This next semester holds a lot of exciting learning opportunities including:

  • Studying novel classics in literature;

  • Researching and building the Solar System as part of the school science project;

  • Focusing on the fundamentals of Math in order to prepare for the (optional) U.S. standardized test offered in May;

  • Working in teams to learn self-sustainability, including composting and growing our own food in gardens located on school grounds;

  • Taking field trips to a gold mine, self-sustainable farm, and other enriching excursions;

  • Competing in the sponsored surf competitions every month;

Now a family can truly enjoy life at the beach while their kids prepare for higher education!

For more information, please visit the website www.fivestarsacademy.com, call +011 (507) 6611-9510, or via email fivestarsacademy@gmail.com.

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"It's Been A Long Time Since I've Heard So Many Lies At The Same Time" - Molinar

Schools & Education In response to a 24-hour strike announced by eight teacher organizations, the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar told these guilds that Panama has no intentions to privatize the education sector.

Molinar said "it's been a long time since I've heard so many lies at the same time," in a clear allusion to the explanations being made by the teachers unions about the strike called for tomorrow, Wednesday, December 12.

"At no point have we talked about it [privatization]. If there is a line in this Decree (No. 920) that's talking about privatization or anything even close to privatization, we would annul it on the spot," she said.

Molinar's statements came during a presentation made by the Ministry of Education in the amphitheater of the Presidency of the Republic. The official insisted that Executive Order No. 920 only has the intention of "making things better, like changing towards excellence, which is our main objective."

She said the union representatives are lying when they say that parents will have to find funds for self-management. In that regard, she recalled that the decree creates an academic council so that the school can focus on each student, in order to detect weaknesses in time.

She also denied that the new legal standard seeks employment instability for the teachers. "Everyone has to be evaluated," she said. She said the self-assessment model was not effective because "nobody ever received a bad evaluation," but now the system has been changed in order to favor the formation of students.

A total of eight teachers unions called for a strike to start tomorrow, Wednesday, in the country as a measure to reject the decree. In addition, there will be a march at 2:00 pm from the Plaza Porras to the Supreme Court, where the teachers unions will lodge an appeal against the decree to have it annulled.

The teachers union leaders have claimed that the decree aims to privatize education and create instability among its members. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Lucy Molinar should be declared Education Czar For Life. She is the first Education Minister who has even tried to break the strangle hold of the teachers unions on the public education system. The public schools in Panama suck for a reason. Lucy knows why, and she's trying to fix it.

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School Classes To Resume in Colon and Capira Tomorrow

Schools & EducationAfter two days of classes being suspended in the district and Colon and Capira due to the damages caused by heavy rains over the weekend, the Ministry of Education announced Wednesday that classes will resume on Thursday in both regions.

The MEDUCA reported that this measure is exempted for some schools that are located in areas of difficult access in Colon and Capira, and these will be evaluated by the regional directorates.

The MEDUCA said they would act flexibly because they are aware that many families have lost everything, which is why they are allowing students to attend classes who are not in uniform. (Telemetro)

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Win a Panama Vacation with Habla Ya

Schools & Education

If you want to experience an authentic vacation in Central America, you should check out the Spanish learning vacation that Habla Ya is giving away: $500 in a cash, a bunch of tours in Bocas del Toro, 4 weeks of lodging at Tungara Bocas Hostel, and 4 weeks of group Spanish lessons.

Check out the video: it's definitively not your ordinary vacation. You can find more about the promotion here...

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Education Minister Lucy Molinar Pissed At Martinelli, But Hanging In There For Now...

Schools & EducationThe Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar said she would neither rule out nor confirm rumors about the possibility that she might resign. She said everyone knows there are things that "do not have her content." "Unfortunately there are things I do not like, but I have a commitment to an education process that has begun," said the minister. She added that these political changes (to the educational system) have never been consolidated, and it would be irresponsible for her, as it has happened in the past, for her to resign and leave them hanging in the air. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: So Lucy Molinar is pissed at the administration of Ricardo Martinelli. She wants to quit, but at the same time she feels a sense of commitment to the changes she has been trying to implement in the Education system from the inside. So, for the meantime at least, she's staying on. She's also managed to send a loud and clear message. I like Lucy, mostly because she's not a two-faced mealy mouthed politician who will say or do anything to get elected. You can tell she's always holding back in public, carefully choosing her words, and I bet behind closed doors she tells a lot of people to "pound sand." Yeah, a girl after my own heart...

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Andrés Rodríguez Will Accept His Dismissal From Teaching Position

Schools & EducationThe rebellion of Andres Rodriguez has ended. The President of the Teachers Association of Panama (ASOPROF) said he will accept his dismissal from the position as a teacher at the Abel Bravo school, which was registered on 30 July 2012. This reaction occurs after the Catholic Church gave him a copy of the report they presented to the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) on 16 October 2012, about the disciplinary offenses. In that report, according to Rodriguez, the Catholic Church recommends he should leave the position in a peaceful manner and without conflict. According to Rodriguez, he had already decided to withdraw much earlier. "I announced my retirement last year under the Self Financed Early Retirement Plan, and it is now the time to do it," said the teacher who has 40 years of service.

Given the results of the report, we tried to obtain a reaction from the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar, but we were informed she will not comment on this topic.

He Will Leave Teacher's Leadership Position - Rodriguez will not only leave the classroom, but he said next year he will also leave the presidency of the ASOPROF, which he has directed for the past 10 years. He said that starting in 2013 he will dedicate his time to recruiting new members to the political party in formation, called the Broad Front for Democracy, which also brings together members of the labor sector (SUNTRACS). (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: So Martinelli built the new Metro Subway system, got rid of the "Red Devil" buses, implemented the "$100 for 70" program - and managed to give Andrés Rodríguez the boot. Some accomplishments are more important than others.

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More Repairs Required Before School Can Reopen After Fatal Accident

Schools & EducationPrior to the resumption of academic activities within the El Japón School, a number of repairs should be made that were recommended in a report issued by the National Civil Protection System, as announced by Federico Castro, the Regional Director of Education of Panama. On RPC Radio, Castro said the Sinaproc delivered a series of recommendations on Thursday that must be followed prior to the opening of the school, which was closed after a 4th grade student was killed when a false wall collapsed. The official reported that on Saturday and Sunday the engineering staff of the Ministry of Education will be doing work on the campus. Castro estimated that classes can resume this week, because they will be making every effort to do the work in the shortest time possible. (Telemetro)

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School Principal Suspended After Wall Collapse Kills Student

Schools & EducationThe Regional Director of Education, of the Ministry of Education, Federico Castro, said the principal of the El Japón school, Zaida Palacios, has been placed on vacation, after a wall collapsed at the school last week, killing one student and injuring two others. During a meeting held with the teachers of the school, the official said the teacher, Aristides de Gracia, who teaches in the sixth grade, is now responsible for the management of the school. He also said that on Wednesday he will be meeting with the teachers and a team to establish psycho therapy for the children, parents and the teachers themselves, so that classes will resume on Friday. (Panama America)

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