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Volume 16, Number 3
March 6, 2010

opinion

Also in this section:
Editorial preview: Panama's endangered institutions
Sirias, Translating a people
Leis, The National Education Council
Bernal, Why a constituent assembly?
Mendez, Children of ink
Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela
Deprez, Climate migration in Latin America
Amnesty International, Indigenous peoples struggle to survive in Colombia
Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the press: a worldwide survey
Reporters Without Borders, RCTVI yields but cadenas still a problem in Venezuela
Weisbrot, Independent Latin America forms its own organization
Alexander, Chile
Kehoe, Hugo Chávez: this year's challenges and opportunities
Nasser, US-Iran power struggle over Iraq
Avnery, Dubious in Dubai
Visotzky, Inter-religious dialogue between Jews and Muslims
Haperskij, Cuba and Russia
Jackson, Orlando Zapata and the Castro brothers
Letters to the editor

The National Education Council
by Raúl Leis R.

I believe, like Nelson Mandela, that "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," and thus when in 2004 I received the invitation from the presidency to be part of the National Education Council (CONACED) constituent group, my first reaction was doubt. There were two reasons. First, it was an entity that made no references to and for which one could not find its true purposes. Second, it was important to find out who would be part of the group, which would define its autonomous profile.

The first doubt was clarified in the proposal for Executive Decree 1030, which indicated that it would be a consultative body directed to "analyze, orient and propose advances in public policies, with the purpose of improving the quality of all levels of the educational system, in conjunction with national development objectives." I understood that by accepting, I could help my country without politically identifying myself with a party or administration, attempting to support something to advance the right of everyone to a high-quality and equitable lifelong education.

The second doubt was clarified for me once I knew the records and commitments of the members as well as the ad honorem functionaries: Stanley Heckadon Moreno, anthropologist and sociologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Carmen Miró, demographer and member of the Superior Council of the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty (FLACSO); Paulina Franceschi, coordinator of the UN Development Program's Human Development Report; Ceferino Sánchez, former rector of the University of Panama and secretary general of the National Science and Technology Secretariat (SENACYT); Alma de Fletcher, executive secretary of the National Transparency Council; Yauda Kuzniecky, tenured professor and member of the boards of directors of La Prensa and the National Library; Andrés Culiolis Bayard, professor of education at the University of Panama, member of the National Book and Reading Council and of the Educational Committee of the Panamanian Episcopal Council; Vicente Pascual, the late businessman and education booster; and Olga Sinclair, the renowned artist. I also have to point out the support lent by professors Angela Arrue and Aixa de Quintero. Thank you!

This past February 11 the 2005-2010 term of CONACED culminated with an act of recognition organized by the Ministry of Education.

CONACED's work led us to learn much more and in better detail the complexities of Panamanian education, from the existing studies and the interactive and critical contacts with public officials, educators, international experts and civil society. From reflections on this work came two important texts: an "Action Document on the Panamanian Educational System" (2006), and its "Monitoring and Follow-up" (2008), which served to identify progress, weaknesses and opportunities for the Education Ministry in its moves to improve education. In 2009 we took part in the process of selecting the qualifications for regional education directors across the country.

I think that our efforts and labor were not duly valued by the official authorities --- otherwise Panamanian education would be different than it is --- but it was worthwhile, for all that we learned and for everything that we tried to teach in good faith. Despite everything, I am sure that the seeds of our educational proposals and estimates have managed to grow into different processes and working spaces in which they will surely bear fruit. The job of transforming education to meet the needs of our epoch can't be postponed. It's necessary to carry out a systematic national educational project that's developed with the participation and commitment of the entire society.




Also in this section:
Editorial preview: Panama's endangered institutions
Sirias, Translating a people
Leis, The National Education Council
Bernal, Why a constituent assembly?
Mendez, Children of ink
Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela
Deprez, Climate migration in Latin America
Amnesty International, Indigenous peoples struggle to survive in Colombia
Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the press: a worldwide survey
Reporters Without Borders, RCTVI yields but cadenas still a problem in Venezuela
Weisbrot, Independent Latin America forms its own organization
Alexander, Chile
Kehoe, Hugo Chávez: this year's challenges and opportunities
Nasser, US-Iran power struggle over Iraq
Avnery, Dubious in Dubai
Visotzky, Inter-religious dialogue between Jews and Muslims
Haperskij, Cuba and Russia
Jackson, Orlando Zapata and the Castro brothers
Letters to the editor

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