Education Minister details new efforts to improve education
Education Minister Carlos Amarante Baret in a TV Interview on Hoy Mismo of Chanel 9 yesterday, 2 August 2016, spoke of measures the government is taking to improve the academic rankings of the country’s grade school students compared to other Latin American countries. The DR is currently ranked among the worst in the region in levels of academic achievement. Baret spoke of efforts to improve the quality of education in the country.
He said that the new school year, which starts 22 August 2016, is an opportunity for teachers to work with students so that they can improve in all subject areas, including reading comprehension, mathematics and science.
Amarante Baret stressed that there is a particular need to improve instruction in reading and mathematics in the early grades.
The Minister, acknowledging the present deficiencies in academic preparation for students in the country, said: “We have to stress to both teachers and parents that we have to help our students perform better academically. We cannot continue to constantly be at the bottom of the rankings in Latin America – we are committed to work hard over the next four years to achieve marked improvements in the quality of education so that our students are better prepared.”
Amarante Baret said the government has been complying with the law that establishes 4% of GDP is earmarked to the education sector and the Pact for Quality Education in the Dominican Republic. According to the Minister, 14,500 new classrooms have been built. He said 3,400 new schools were opened last year. There also have been increases in salaries that has led to an improved quality of life for public school teachers. He mentioned that 930,000 students now attend the extended school day program that provides lunch and snacks at school. He mentioned the extensive free distribution of school books in public schools. Baret noted the government’s investment in the purchase of millions of backpacks and school uniforms, as well as the school breakfast program that benefits 1.7 million children. He says that these investments and programs are helping to reduce school dropout rates.
He pointed out that for the Ministry of Education to achieve the goal of 90% of students enrolled in the extended school session some 23,000 additional classrooms are needed. He said the plan this year is to build 15,000 new classrooms and an additional 5,000 classrooms next year.
Amarante Baret said that the results of the National Standardized Tests (Pruebas Nacionales) show slight improvements in the education system.
He said that the student scores in the Program for International School Assessment (PISA) assessment were not satisfactory but the program has helped the government have a more clear understanding of where there needs to be improvement. The Dominican Republic participated in the 2015 assessment, but the results have not yet been published.
The Minister said the country needs teachers prepared to meet the education challenges of the 21st century and unfortunately, our universities are not preparing teachers for these new challenges. He said the Ministry of Education has set forth new guidelines for hiring teachers that were drafted together with the Ministry of Superior Education (MESCyT). He said the National Council of Superior Education (CONESCyT) has new guidelines for teacher preparation that are in effect as of August for university graduates in Education. Amarante Baret said some 300 foreign and Dominican university education professors have been evaluated and a selection of these candidates will be hired by the Ministry. He said that around 5,000 educators are participating in a new program that provides a range of training modules to improve student academic performance. The program is being rolled out for teachers in Santo Domingo.
Source: DR1, Elnuevodiario
Aug 3, 2016
Category: DR News |