lunes, 10 de mayo de 2010


 By: Felipe Argote

Try to buy the idea that the serious problem of education in our country begins to settle with a curricular change in higher years, that with two more math and two civic fewer students will get into more preparation for college or at least we will not keep half of the undergraduate students drop out of the system is at least an insult to our intelligence.

The improvement of our educational system, in my opinion, certainly starts with two key elements: the radical improvement of infrastructure and faculty.

The improvement of the infrastructure: It is not possible to continue the practice for students to mobilize tens of kilometers from their homes to try to receive a minimum of conditions for their education. The conditions of schools in the suburbs are so deplorable that parents get up at midnight and spend hours in the rain to get a place at schools that are far from their home. How many students from the Professional School Isabel Herrera Obaldía, Richard Newman and Remon Cantera live in Paitilla, San Francisco or Obarrio? Very few or none. Then we have to look at the sorry spectacle of hundreds of students at night waiting for buses that refuse to receive them because they don’t pay full passage.

Education reform must begin with the construction of new schools. The Professional, Moscote, the Remon Cantera, are schools built more than fifty years ago. Those schools have already served their useful life have become dilapidated buildings unsuitable for education without minimum conditions for the school environment. Since when do not hear from the construction of a new school. What are the public schools in the capital: the National Institute is the only high school in the entire area of Santana, Chorrillo and vicinity. It has more than one hundred years. Rather than building new schools because of population growth the governments preferred the double shifts, in which students receive no less than five hours of classes a day. How much longer will be double-shift schools? It is necessary to build large schools, with green areas, a gymnasium and school canteens to make them attractive to young people.

The faculty improvement: The continuous closure of the school done by the workers unions are nothing if you place them in perspective. Absences from classes are the rule rather than the exception. I know from direct references that in the city of Santiago schools do not work on Fridays or Mondays very often. This is common practice in the Ngöbe area as teachers travel to their homes on Friday and begin his return on Monday. Teachers at Arraiján schools close Friday because some teachers organize trips to Decameron. In David, Chiriqui, a director of a secondary school called the media to report that in a search of the backpacks of students confiscated 61 cell phones. The director called parents to review their son’s bags because it was not allowed for students to carry phones to school. Now it seems that the way of being able to contact their children after school hours, to ensure that they are way to the house while their parents are working is for this anachronistic schools principal a crime. This is possible because a principal doesn’t earn much than a teacher. So many who are compete for the position of principal is to avoid class hours and to have access to the pinch of budget items. I know a director who was removed from office for robbery and now returns to the same position under the auspices of the new government to the same post. A few weeks after his return five computers disappear from the computer class room without forcing the doors. The computers mysteriously disappeared over the weekend.

If the head is not right what we think may be the body healthy. Should there be incentives for top managers to be the principals and the best teachers have to occupy the best jobs. Additionally old teachers must leave the system when they are already retired. There are many educators who retire and continue working to receive two salaries, of course reluctantly, while young people with modern ideas and training cannot access the system because it is dominated by people who make invectives against computers and the internet. We know the needs of these educators, but this cannot be the determining factor at the expense of training new generations of students.

Finally, a method must be organized for student transportation to mobilize in time and prevent these young people remain in the streets until late at night with the argument that buses do not want to pick up them.

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