President of the National Confederation of Parents Karina Herrera listed a number of aspects considered a debt by the Ministry of Education (Meduca) and that still affect some educational institutions such as slum schools, infrastructure problems, inappropriate amount of teachers and payment default for the language unit, rendering it impossible to start classes with English teachers.
"The perspective is really quite sad; it is somewhat disappointing because we expected a more complete beginning of school year, in more advanced project issues. We have seen the Ministry's interest in undertaking into curricula changes but we have not seen the effect of curriculum changes. They are not consonant with the real need of our students," said Herrera.
The parents’ representative said that the education issue in Panama is serious, "Panamanian education is quite behind compared to what we see in the labor market nowadays. We have had many problems with technology since we have not seen a technological advance as expected and less with a millionaire budget cut made to the Ministry of Education which causes further deterioration and delay these advances. We must venture into changes in high school; we must leave the traditional high school degree major in science, commerce, humanities. We must venture more into the issue of customer service, more in technology, more in communication, tourism. This is what is really demanded today. Our children are not prepared to cover the labor market that really requires workforce and therefore many foreigners are filling these posts".
Karina Herrera compared the money allocated in other countries of the region for education budget. She said that in Chile the investment reaches up to 3,000 balboas for each student; however in Panama, "just 1,000 balboas are invested per student". Despite this scenario, she believes that solutions must be provided by each member of society. "The main limitation has been the lack of will of the State to support the education system including the lack of will of many unions with the suspension of classes, and the fact that many parents have been disinterested in knowing the meaning of the education system. Education is for everyone and private companies must be more involved in these issues," said Herrera.
The 2017 budget for Education was B /. 2,150,882,439 while in 2018 the total estimated expenses is B /. 2,317,717,763 which means an increase of B /. 166,835,324. Regarding investments for education, a total of B /. 530,544,325 are estimated. The total of expenses of the education budget in Panama is equivalent to 9.7% of a total of B /. 23,867,874,654.
President of the Confederation of Parents Karina Herrera announced that on Tuesday, March 6, the Ultracom Project will be made official. The project was promoted with the support of the private company and will mean the provision of educational and real estate material in two school centers in Panama City.