Ministry to spend $70 million on repairs, construction

The repairs are slated to be finished by the start of the new school year Feb. 23.


The Ministry of Education will allocate $70 million to school improvements to have them ready for the start of the year on Feb. 23.

The ministry plans to spend money on building new schools and colleges, expanding existing structures and installing dorms at facilities in remote áreas.

Minister Marcela Paredes de Vásquez said that $26 million will be spent on new constructions, though the facilities will not be ready for this year.

The minister said that a lack of schools is one of the most serious problems facing the entity, especially in indigenous regions. She said there many young people who leave school in ninth grade because there is no secondary school close to their home.

Education union leader Yadira Pino said that the investment by the ministry is positive, but criticized the lack of consultation in planning the improvements.

She said the ministry should have commissioned a study to examine the needs of the system to determine where new facilities should be built.

Fellow union leader Diógenes Sánchez said that $70 million is not nearly enough to make the needed repairs.

University of Panama (UP) General Secretary Miguel Angel Candanedo also said more money is needed for repairs because the issue was ignored by previous administrations. He said that between 80 and 90 percent of the schools in the country are in "critical" condition.



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