Education Minister calls for mindset change; criticizes wasteful spending

Appointed in August 2022 to replace President Luis Abinader’s first choice for Minister of Education, Angel Hernández has been blunt about what he has found at the Ministry and what needs to change.

During an interview with the Corripio Media Group, Hernandez summed up that the billions invested after Danilo Medina allocated 4% of the GDP to public education in 2012 have been wasted. The change of administration in 2020 and the appointment of former minister Roberto Furcal did little to make a difference.

“The money that has been invested in the education sector has gone through the holes of the sack, because the main concern has not been the mission of the education system, that children learn,” stated the highly reputed educator.

Hernández says that until there is an acculturation of the teachers, from the central to the local level, to get all involved to focus on efforts so that children learn, the problems will prevail.

Hernandez blamed the influence of politics in the system. He says there must be a social commitment to make up for lost time.

While participating in the Weekly Luncheon of the Corripio Communications Group, Hernández spoke of the waste of resources that has occurred after the allocation of 4% of GDP to education. He said there are 710 schools with five to 21 years under construction. He said that when taking over the Ministry of Education he found in storage there were inventories of 70,000 pairs of unusable shoes; 400,000 thousand laptops with three years in storage and one million books that were printed with old contents and more. He has been critical of the millions spent on a digital content contract, where a chauffeur was the responsible for the content during the Furcal term.

He said that after almost ten years of the allocation of billions to public schools, there are still schools without the basics — water and electricity.

He mentioned the case of a woman who received a 20% advance for 45,000 school desks, but has not delivered 5,000.

Hernandez said the Ministry of Education submitted to the Administrative Corruption Prosecution (PEPCA) a list of companies that had together received over one billion in advance payments, and other documents to government lawyers in charge of recovering assets for another two billion.

Hernandez criticized that less than 7% of the enormous budget allocation is invested in teacher training. He said most goes for payroll, infrastructure and pensions.

“The ministry’s budget for the current year is RD$275.38 billion pesos of which RD$152,44 billion is payroll,” explained Rolando Reyes, vice Minister of Planning during the interview.

Deputy Minister Ancell Scheker says the emphasis now is on the first four years of basic education that is where the foundations for improvement can be made. To complement this work, they launched a bidding process that will be completed now with the construction of 3,000 classrooms for the initial level and to accommodate children from 3 to 5 years old, equivalent to about a thousand schools (modules of three classrooms) that will be established to guarantee their education.

At the secondary level, he said that in the country there are 305 polytechnics in name, but without being adequately fitted. He said by October, 38 of these will have new equipment and a bidding process to equip another 171 polytechnics will be launched. This will bring to 200 of 305 the polytechnics that are adequately equipped.

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El Dia

23 January 2023