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Education as a National Priority and The Efficacy of the Education System; Needing to Attract Foreign Talent

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Panamanian university students shut down street in protest against budget cut

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 15:28

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A group of students from the state University of Panama, the largest in the country, shut down yesterday one of the main streets of the capital to protest against the millionaire budget cuts affecting the university.

The university students, who carried banners and burned some car wheels, blocked the so-called Vía Transísmica (Transismic Road), one of the largest entry and exit avenues of the city, causing intense traffic.

"It is an attack on higher education, while here the money is squandered on other less important things. The University of Panama is cut 64 million dollars," student leader Gilberto Solís told local television.

The budget of the university for 2019 will be $285.1 million, $64 million less than what was requested by the authorities of the university, according to the bill introduced in Parliament and which is pending approval.

"We call on the government authorities to come face-to-face and solve this problem because the university needs resources," the protester added.

Professors, administrators and students of the university went last April to a massive demonstration to denounce the precarious state of the infrastructures and to demand a "dignified" budget and according to the macroeconomic figures of the country.

Although Panama's economic growth is lower than a few years ago, the country continues to be one of the main regional drivers and in 2016 its gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.7 percent.



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OPINION: Panama scince shortchanged


Marchers exit the Bio Museo

Posted 31/03/2019

Today is the third March for Science, a global event that the Science Movement in Panama, has joined in order to highlight the role played by science in the daily life of the population, and highlight the importance of research, technological innovation and the formulation of public policies based on evidence. Panama is a country that has been built and has prospered thanks to science and technology: the Canal would not have been possible without the control of mosquitoes; the hubFinancial logistic would not be feasible without the high technology of communication, and all human activities in this isthmus depend on science and

Despite this, Panama only invests 0.2% of GDP in this issue, while the aspiration of Panamanian scientists is to reach at least 1%. Although The Gorgas Institute this year has the highest budget in its history ($28.6 million) it needs more funds to face so many challenges. That is why the scientific and educational community is marching today in the capital, in Las Tablas and David. Without greater resources for the training of scientists, the financing of research and the consolidation of innovation, Panama is condemned to delay and an unsustainable intellectual dependence. In the era of anti-vaccination movements and other opponents of knowledge.- LA PRENSA, Mar. 31



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OPINION: Government  pimps skip education


Posted 21/04/2019

The greatest wealth of a country is not in its natural resources or in its structures or roads. It is its people. And if you have an education, it is doubly richer. Our educational platform is decades behind. That has made our people dependent on the government of the day. The State must allocate billions in subsidies every year because simply the poor Panamanians become poorer because they need State funds to survive. We are talking about subsidies such as universal scholarships, gas, buses, the subway, the Social Security Fund, electricity, houses, the elderly without retirement, etc. And it is likely that more will be created or the amounts will increase, thanks to the campaign promises that the presidential candidates are making. In other words, The intervention of the State in the lives of the people is more evident, and it has the consent of those affected, who now believe they have the right to claim these subsidies and those that will come later. For decades, it has been a cry of society for education reforms to be introduced to make citizens productive, with which our economy would improve every year. But, far from it, the governments have been the pimps between the easy money and those who demand that the State solve their lives. Only education will make it possible for citizens to recover the dignity that governments have taken from them. It has been a cry of society for education reforms to be introduced to make citizens productive people, with which our economy would improve every year - LA PRENSA, Apl. 21



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Panama's Education System Shortchanged By Politicians

So pleased to see the above responses on the topic of education. I have maintained for almost my entire time here in Panama (now 18+ years) that education is the number one priority that needs "fixing". Just never seems to happen.

And then there is another posting from the newspapers here on CL this morning reporting that the Chamber of Commerce is saying that education, health care, and Social Security should be the top priority for the country and the political aspirants in the upcoming May elections. I agree, as long as education is the first on that short list.

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Panama education shortcomings highlighted


Posted 17/05/2019

The continuing shortcomings of Panama’s education system have been highlighted in a Ministry of Education (Meduca) report on a national test of students in third and sixth grades.

They were measured in three basic subjects: Spanish, mathematics and natural sciences.

Some  30% of the students were shown to be without d basic knowledge in Spanish and mathematics; while 50% of the students when they reach the sixth grade have not been able to develop their scientific skills.

Meduca’s director of Educational Evaluation of  Gina Garcés said that the differences in performance between the tests in 2015-2016  test and the one applied in 2017-2018 are minimal.

She The official cited as an example that the performance of third-grade students in Spanish only reached a positive difference of 2.9 %, which is not significant in terms of learning improvements.

is test was applied on a census basis to 62,195 students who were in the third grade in 2, 940 schools, and to 8, 329 sixth grade students from 419 schools, government and private in both cases.

The evaluation was based on the document Fundamental Rights of Learning of Students, of Meduca, through the key concepts: "what should know, what should be done and with what level of domain".

 Bocas del Toro and Darién had the lowest levels in the evaluation The results, says Garcés, are an opportunity to improve the education system. In the case of natural sciences, they will have to define a focused action plan to achieve the competency that students require in this subject.

Coming Up
 Meduca expects to have results this year for  Pisa, the international evaluation driven by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  and s applied every three years which was applied to 6,419 students in 2018.

The test was aimed at 15-year-old students in seventh grade and above. The areas in which they were evaluated were are comprehensive reading, science, and mathematics, with an emphasis on comprehensive reading.

In the test applied in 2009 Panama was in  62nd position, only 3 places from the bottom.



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OPINION: Mediocrity shame

Posted 17/05/2019

THE RESULTS  of the Crece tests - which the Ministry of Education carries out in public and private schools - are discouraging. These were applied to children of third and sixth grade, and the great majority lack the competencies that they should have in essential subjects, such as Spanish, mathematics, and science. Tens of millions of dollars wasted in salaries, schools, technological investments. There is an urgent need for changes in the way it is taught; in the way of evaluating; in public policies on education; in pedagogy. We are in shameful positions in international tests that shout at us: they need to change. The deep mediocrity that reigns in the teaching-learning process is more than evident, but it gives shame that there is no political will to carry out the reforms that are needed for decades. According to these results, our schools, colleges, and universities are not training professionals, much less citizens. Could it be that governments do not want more educated people, with informed criteria? Could it be that society does not feel the need to have critical, innovative citizens? This is not the work of a government. This concerns us all-LA PRENSA, May 17



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Teachers descend on presidential palace


Posted 12/07/2019

HUNDREDS of teachers taking part in a nationwide  work stoppage  on Friday, July 12, marched from  the  Republic of Venezuela School  in Calidonia to the Palace of Las Garzas to present a list of demands to the new government



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Panama students “devastating” results in international evaluation


Posted 03/12/2019

Panamanian students got what has been described as a devastating result in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  It ranked 71st out of 77.

According to this world reference educational test, Panama is ranked 71 out of 77 countries evaluated, only above Indonesia, Morocco, Lebanon, Kosovo, Dominican Republic, and the Philippines.

After a 9-year break, 15-year-old students from Panama were re-examined last year about their knowledge and skills in math, science and reading comprehension.

The portrait of Panamanian education left by the 2018 results corresponding to 2018, presented simultaneously on several continents on Tuesday, is devastating reports La Prensa.

Panama is well below the middle zone both in reading and understanding a written text - where the strongest are Estonia and Canada - and in mathematics and science, subjects dominated by China, Singapore and Hong Kong.

According to the data, 64% of 15-year-old Panamanian students cannot “identify the main idea in a text of moderate length, find information based on explicit criteria, nor can they reflect on the purpose and form of the texts when it explicitly indicates that they do so ”.

And 34% hardly reach this minimum of understanding. That is to say, of every ten students, more than six do not understand what they read. In contrast, 77%  of the students in the countries that make up the OECD, trained for this basic function. In fact, the Panamanian score is 377 points (the average is 487), which places the country in 63rd place. Below are only Indonesia, Morocco, Lebanon, Kosovo, Dominican Republic and the Philippines.

As for the evaluation in science, students in Panama who are competent in drawing some conclusions from different data sources and can describe and explain in part simple causal relationships only around 29%.

The OECD average is 78%. Panama has obtained a result of 365 points when the average of the OECD countries is 489.

The panorama in mathematics is much worse. 81% of students do not know how to answer a simple calculation, such as comparing the total distance through two alternative routes or converting prices to a different currency. In the world, only 24% reach this level. In total, Panama has scored 353 points when the average is 489. Only students from the Philippines and the Dominican Republic are in a lower stage.

It is the second time that Panama participated in the exam that assesses the extent to which students close to the end of compulsory education have acquired the knowledge and skills necessary for full participation in the knowledge society.

The test is conducted every three years and serves governments and schools as a guide to improve students' academic skills.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Education as a National Priority and The Efficacy of the Education System
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OPINION: Panama’s future condemned


Posted 04/12/2019

The results of the PISA test are shocking. Between 2009 and 2018, Panamanian scores worsened against the average of OECD countries. This, despite the fact that in the past decade three salary increases were granted to teachers and the Universal Scholarship was established.

During the five years between 2009 and 2014, we did not want to evaluate Panamanian education with international parameters. What is not measured, even if the results are terrible, cannot be corrected. Most 15-year-old Panamanian students cannot solve basic math problems or understand what they read. That is the product of so much improvisation, politicking and perverse clientelism, with which Panamanian education has been poisoned.

 We have had 12 ministers of the branch in 30 years. Plans and strategies long agreed by one administration are thrown away by the next. All Panamanians must be deeply angry and upset with what happens with our education. We are condemning the country to lose the future.- LA PRENSA, Dec.4



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Chamber of Commerce backs call for foreign talent


Posted 09/02/2020

Panama’ Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (Cciap), has reacted enthusiastically to the recent analysis of the Panamanian economy economist Ricardo Hausmann, and the urgent need to attract talent from other countries to strengthen advancement opportunities in society.

In its  weekly statement  the Chamber highlights that Panama's economic growth has been the largest in the region in recent decades, but is showing  an increasingly marked slowdown.

They agree  that, in the analysis, the key for Panama to become a regional power is to replicate and extend already developed experiences such as those of Panama Pacifico and the City of Knowledge, based on the fact that the country is leading the Americas in terms of foreign investment in relation to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"Far from restricting the entry of foreign talent, we must promote it with a significant change in our culture to see, in those who arrive, not competitors but allies in the common effort to expand our border of opportunities", says the Chamber in accordance with the economist. by the expert

“ Artificially created ” restrictions for careers such as engineering, architecture, law, and medicine should be removed. By limiting the practice of external professionals, and not having a world-class education, we limit the country's ability to increase knowledge, innovation, and technology in addition to diminishing our competitive advantages," says the Chamber.

On the other hand, they point out that the fact that Panama is  down the line  in international education measurements, well below the world and regional average,  "speaks of the error of preventing foreign professors from teaching in universities ", while other countries seek, precisely, the importation of such wealth of knowledge.

The Cciap anticipates that proposals such as those raised will find resistance from those who seek to protect their own bailiwicks.



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Panama Needs to Attract Foreign Talent

Changing the model of progress by betting on more complex and higher value-added activities, without restricting the entry of qualified foreign labor, is part of what the Panamanian business sector proposes to boost long-term economic growth.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

In a statement, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) reflects on the need to make significant adjustments in the country's productive matrix to achieve long-term sustainable economic development.

From the CCIAP statement:

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama closely observes the recent analysis of the economist Ricardo Hausmann on our country's economy, agreeing with him on the pressing need to attract talent from other nations to strengthen our opportunities for advancement as a society.

The country's economic growth has been the highest in the region in recent decades, but it shows an increasingly marked slowdown, which makes it advisable, in order to avoid the effects of adverse cyclical conditions, to change its model of progress for more complex or sophisticated activities, says Hausmann, director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

According to this analysis, the key to Panama becoming a regional power is to replicate and extend experiences already developed here, such as those of Panama Pacifico and the City of Knowledge, based on the fact that the country leads the Americas in terms of foreign investment in relation to its GDP.

Read full statement (In Spanish).




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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Education as a National Priority and The Efficacy of the Education System; Needing to Attract Foreign Talent
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On 2/13/2020 at 11:14 AM, Moderator_02 said:



Medical specialists deride business call for foreign  professionals


Posted 17/02/2020

Members of the Association of Medical Specialists of Hospital Santo Tomás (HST) have reacted strongly to initiatives by Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture seeking an opening for hiring foreign labor in the country.

The Association considers  statements made by the guild as “reckless and harmful”  

According to the Association   there are enough talented professionals to perform any job, both in the public and private sectors.

They point out through that by saying that universities are not up to current teaching in the world, is to disparage the different teachers of various disciplines who have made great contributions generation after generation of Panamanians.



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