Few advances seen in the Educational Pact a year after signing
SANTO DOMINGO. In nearly a year since the signing of the National Pact for Educational Reform, the commitments taken on, especially by government institutions, have advanced very little, according to evaluations by several organizations of the civil society that are closely following the educational reforms.
The Pact was signed in the afternoon of April 1 last year in the Presidential Palace by representatives of around 200 public and private and civilian institutions, and lays out the paths that should be followed by Dominican education until the year 2030.
While the majority of the points of the multi – sector agreement do not establish deadlines for their execution, organizations such as the Social – Educational Forum criticize the fact that many processes have not been started and that others that were working before the signing, remain stagnant.
Clara Sanchez, an investigator of the Dominican Observatory of Public Policies of the UASD and a member of the Forum, says that there are basic points that needed to start in this first year because they would mark the trajectory to follow.
The first thing indicated by Mario Berges of the Petite Committee of this group, is that the budget of the Ministry of Education for this 2015 year should have been submitted and approved by the National Council on Education beforehand, as established by the law, but this did not happen.
Another measure that should have gone into effect starting in August 2014, was the implementation of an obligatory test for the aspiring new teachers, in order to determine their knowledge, vocation and abilities.
But Cledenin Beras, the director of Education at the Ibero-American University (Unibe), says that the schools of education apply the same standardized diagnostic Poma test, without having this mechanism reinforced.
According to Business Action for Education (Educa) until now they only know the efforts by the Salome Ureña Institute for Teacher Training (Isfodosu), which belongs to the state. The Institute has reformed its teacher training programs and selection processes, but Educa issued a warning regarding the risk that the applicants that do not qualify here find space in less demanding schools.
In this sense, they demand that the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology strengthen their regulatory capacity and increase the requirements for the universities so that they apply the same rigorous selection processes in order to enter the teaching career, just as is established in the Pact.
Last year the independent evaluation of the teachers already under contract t should also have been started, but this was not done. The Ministry of Education alleges that it is in the process of selection of the independent firm which will carry out the evaluation.
“We feel that it is fundamental to prioritize the technical and independent evaluation in order to achieve fair, objective and independent evaluations of all the teachers,” says Educa, in a report which they prepared at the request of Diario Libre.
In this first year they also did not take steps for the promotion of a national debate on lay teaching and the treatment of religion in education as a commitment by the state, nor have they made advances in order to “define, apply and regulate an editorial policy on textbooks and pedagogical resources which guarantees the quality, the relevance and the up-to-date content, as well as the philosophical and pedagogical focus of the current curriculum.” “There are things which need our attention because they have done nothing in this sense, and these things have to be done now, because if they are not done, it is not possible to advance on other points,” stresses José Alexander Garcia, from Educa, during a panel on the first year of the Pact, organized by the Social-Educational Forum.
Regarding higher education, the representative of Unibe underlines the fact that they have not even convened the entities of this sector in order to work out a plan of action which allows them to comply with the agreements of the Pact. Likewise they say that they have not advanced on initiatives to increase the technological connectivity between the universities or in the system of accreditation of institutions or programs of higher education.
Among the most important advances of the Pact is the approval and enactment of the Regulation of Social Oversight, which will be the way to provide follow-up on the commitments taken on by Dominican society. It is worth saying that this regulation, of recent circulation, should have been presented to the country within three months, but it took 11 months.
As something positive, Educa points out the start of the Program of Comprehensive Attention to infants “Quisqueya Begins with You,” with the inauguration of several daycare centers.
Regarding the living conditions of the teachers, they recognize “valuable efforts to increase their working conditions.” For example, last year and this year, the Ministry of Education (Minerd) carried out salary increases for the teachers.
Also they gave evidence of progress on the road towards the globalization of the extended school day, but the Social – Educational Forum noted the absence of curricular material and of teachers to give some classes.
The Pact establishes, in addition, the development of a system of school transportation. On this point, the Minerd began a program on the Duarte Corridor, to mobilize students along the route of the Duarte Highway.
Another compliance of the Pact is the application of the Pisa test, which is in process, since point 6 .3 establishes the promotion of the participation of the country in these international measurements.
The members of the Social- Educational Forum pointed out as a flagrant violation to the Pact, departmental order Num. 9, issued by the Minister of Education, Carlos Amarante Baret, in December 2014, which appoints 550 technicians, without an open competition. For Clara Sanchez, from the Observatory of Public Policies of the U ASD, this is a “very serious signal,” “because supposedly the technical personnel is one which goes up the scale until reaching that position.”
Another violation – they said – is that although the Pact stresses that the schools be accessible to students with physical limitations, many of the new school buildings do not have these facilities.
In the present context, institutions such as Educa are hoping that the Regulations of Social Oversight provide a new push to the commitments of the Pact, which will allow the raising of the quality of the educational system.
The National Pact for Educational Reform is the first of three agreements of this type that President Danilo Medina promised the country that he would leave them during his administration. The other two are the Electricity Pact and the Fiscal Pact. At the present time they are carrying out a national consultation for the Electricity Pact in order to promote its signing soon. Regarding the Fiscal Pact nothing is being said yet.
March 31, 2015
Category: DR News |