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  Number 464 | Marzo 2020
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“We’re facing an educational emergency”

These two educators and experts in pedagogy, founders of the Center for Social Educational Research and Action (CIASES) explain the reasons for the “educational emergency” in Nicaragua today, and describe the deplorable state of its national educational system.

Josefina Vijil y Melba Castillo

What is the educational context in today’s world? And in what context is education happening in Nicaragua? The answers to these questions and a brief assessment with some facts about how our elementary and basic education system is functioning today will show that we’re facing an educational emergency. It’s urgent that we understand it as such. And it’s equally urgent that we respond to this emergency by prioritizing some fundamental changes if we want Nicaragua to be viable as a country.

We don’t have state picies,
just government ones

After doing a historical appraisal of how education has been done in Nicaragua over the past hundred years, we concluded that today’s educational problems have been passed along all that time. Every change made to the educational system has ended in failure. Why? Because we have no state policies, just government policies determined by the goal of winning elections, winning votes. The changes made last only as long as each government does.

The lack of adequate state policies has meant Nicaragua entered the 21st century with the same unresolved educational problems it had in the 19th century. There are also problems in other areas, although we’re not going to discuss them here. After a hundred years, Nicaragua’s educational system has given all it had. It doesn’t work for our country or any other country in today’s world. It urgently needs to be changed. And we don’t have much time to do it.

The demographic dividend

We saw the urgency of change way back in 2006. That year we proposed the seven priorities we are still proposing today. The 2005 census—the last one done in our country—revealed a new fact: 58.4% of the Nicaraguan population was 15 years old and older. We were facing an unprecedented demographic phenomenon. The base of the demographic pyramid had always been mostly younger children dependent on the adult population. This demanded a large investment in a nonproductive population. The new census showed that, for the first time in our history, the majority of our population was of working age. Nicaragua had entered a stage called the “demographic dividend.” A novel period regarding investment and labor had opened up to the country. When this same phenomenon happened in several Asian countries, they took advantage of it to invest in education and technological development for this expanded labor force.

Economist Adolfo Acevedo worked a lot on the possibilities the demographic dividend was offering our country. He contributed some comparative data showing how South Korea took advantage of its demographic dividend period to change its productive and technological matrix and the huge positive repercussions that had in the country’s economic growth and in family income levels. A country like South Korea, which in 1974 was at the same poverty level as Nicaragua, left us behind at an impressive speed. We’re not saying those Southeast Asian countries resolved all their problems, but they did resolve important educational problems we have not even began to resolve.

Seeing this opportunity in 2006, we launched a social alert highlighting the urgency of changes in education due to the demographic dividend. We needed to intensify the preparation available to adolescents and young adults to allow them to get quality jobs or start up in areas of greater income or greater complexity. This would have a positive impact not only on them and their families but also on the country as a whole.

We need to seriously reform
secondary and technical education

Intensifying preparation means seriously reforming secondary and technical education. One thing we proposed back then was that secondary and technical careers not be all the same in the country’s different municipalities, but be linked to the productive matrix of each municipality and the existing municipal development plans or ones to come. During a pilot project we implemented to municipalize education in Catarina, a 4.2-square-mile municipality of Masaya with the potential of becoming a “little gold box,” the mayor sadly said to us: “I have enough young lawyers in the municipality to pave the streets with them, but I don’t have a single young technician who can make innovations in what we’ve been doing here for a hundred years, gardening and tourism.”

We made many proposals to take advantage of the demographic dividend, but nobody took them into account. That same year, 2006, Daniel Ortega won the elections. He too paid no attention to our proposal or to any other that came from civil society on other issues. And so, here we are today, knowing that the demographic dividend in Nicaragua will end in 2035. We have 15 years left to take advantage of it.

What will happen if this opportunity is lost? We’ll have generations of young people who haven’t had a formal job, haven’t paid into social security and won’t have the necessary formation that could result in a sustainable change in the country’s productive matrix towards better quality jobs. Nicaragua will become a country of elderly people who won’t receive a pension and won’t have savings. Who will take care of this larger mass of people once they are older? This will become a time bomb.

In 2016, ten years after not being heard, we did another appraisal of education, insisting on the urgency of reforming it. And we presented our proposal once again with the seven priorities we had already proposed in 2006, reviewed in light of changes that have happened in the world’s context. “Nicaraguan education priorities for the 21st century” was the title we gave our proposal. It’s on the internet: www.ciases.org.ni anew d also in https://www.envio.org.ni/articulo/4418

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

During the ten years between our first proposal and the next, we’ve seen the world move at a dramatic pace towards what is known as the “fourth industrial revolution,” a technological one that, as many authors warn, will modify the level and complexity of how we live, work and relate, provoking changes to humanity never before experienced. In his book, ¡Sálvese quien pueda! [Every Man for Himself!], journalist Andrés Oppenheimer says 70% of the world’s population will perform their professional work independently or sub-contracted by 2030.

The fourth revolution is rapidly reducing what we used to consider “medium term” from about fifty years to only five years. In increasingly brief spaces of time, societies will have to adapt to the challenges imposed by the accelerated development of science and technology. The changes this revolution requires in the productive matrix are impressive. If we don’t take those changes seriously, we’ll lose viability as a country.

Studies of the fourth revolution show that the new powers of change will be in genetic engineering and neuro-technology, in artificial intelligence. The trend towards automation is already well on its way. Any activity that involves repeating the same operation over and over again will be replaced by automation. There are studies that show the 12 fields for the future’s careers. They all have to do with what a machine can’t do for us. The International Monetary Fund warns that automation is very positive for economic growth, but very negative for equality, which means those who will suffer from these changes are the same as always, the poorest. A 2019 Inter-American Development Bank study points out that 65% of current jobs in Nicaragua are at risk of automation and could stop existing. What challenges does this pose for the education we have today?

We are beginning to realize that we’ve wasted a dozen years of our demographic dividend. We’re beginning to learn the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, unable to evade them, and having to run to adapt. This is happening at a time Nicaragua is going through the worst human rights, democratic and violent crisis of its history in times of no war, a time that is also one of generalized emotional exhaustion in all aspects of life and all social environments.

Our caudillo culture
is our worst enemy

As always, a constant in today’s national life today is the caudillismo in our political culture. Among other things it translates into an inability to create collectives of people who can think and work together. Many foreigners ask us why we can’t reach an agreement and do something relevant for the country if we know so many brilliant Nicaraguans. The answer is that it costs us Nicas a lot to set aside our own ideas to assume those of others that are better.

But even within this difficult national framework and this caudillo culture that is so hard to overcome. we need to grasp the urgency of improving education. We’ll have to come to terms with it in a national dialogue aimed at agreeing to do something important together: reform our educational system because with the one we have now we are risking both the present and the future.

No changes are
possible in this crisis

Today, Nicaragua is experiencing a very serious institutional crisis. Its escalation and the government’s violent response have involved acts unprecedented in this country despite all the dictatorships Nicaragua has survived.

The educational problems in Nicaragua can’t be resolved while this political crisis, this crisis of legitimacy and institutionality, and this repression exist. No changes are possible today. For us to be able to resolve the educational problems we need a re-institutionalization process that can make changes possible. As things stand now, we can’t even talk to a Ministry of Education official. We have no statistics. Nor can we enter a public school.

We recently finished research we began in 2018, which was interrupted that year and picked up again in 2019. We wanted to see what is happening in first grade classrooms using the Synthetic, Analytic Phonics (FAS) method to teach reading and writing. We were concerned that the Ministry of Education determined in 2015 that it would be the only method used to teach reading and writing without first explaining to citizens why this decision was made or offering evidence to justify it. We wanted to know if this was in fact being used and what results it was having. We couldn’t get a representative sample of all the schools in the country due to lack of access to their data bases and difficulty getting into public schools. We were only able to enter a few by turning to organizations that work with public schools. The rest of the sample came from subsidized schools.

The importance of such research

What we were researching is important because we now know, for example, what areas of the brain are activated when we read. We didn’t used to know what happened or how it happened. Knowing this gives us leads on what works best so children can learn to read with no problems and when is the best time to learn, which is in first grade. If at that age they don’t learn to read and understand what they’re reading, it will be hard for them to continue learning in the years to follow.

Technology has changed the human brain. From a very young age, children are especially inclined towards technology; they immediately become familiar with what it requires. Reading, however, is different. Learning to read is a more complex process than learning how to use technology. Learning to read isn’t a natural act; it’s a conventional act that emerged when humanity invented writing. Learning to read requires having another person to teach us. It requires guiding children, teaching them not only how to read but also to understand what they’re reading. And all of this requires an adequate method because this learning is the base for everything to come. Our research is important because reading is so useful to continuing to learn. We obtained some information, but lack a lot because thousands of Nicaraguan boys and girls are supposedly being taught to read with this method and we don’t know what effects it’s having, what’s happening with this fundamental tool with which our children will continue being taught.

What we know and how we know it

There are so many things we need to know more about in order to make the correct improvements that are so urgently needed. There are some specific facts we don’t know about because the Ministry of Education doesn’t publish statistics. Before, we used to have access to enrollment databases of every school. We knew the number of students and the number of schools in each municipality, each department and each academic level. Today, we no longer have access even to these most basic figures. Fortunately, so many years working in education in so many places have allowed us to gather some information made available to us by officials. We get other information from international sources and others not specialized in education, like data from the Central Bank or censuses of homes done by specialized organizations.

There’s a set of educational problems that neighboring countries have resolved and Nicaragua still hasn’t resolved. One is universal access, access to schooling for all children in the country. This government has been saying for years that access has improved, that enrollment has increased, but that’s not true. Ten percent of our children—the poorest as always—are not in school because there’s only one model of school and we haven’t been able to come up with alternative models like they’ve done in other countries. Because they’re children of families that have economic difficulties or live in very remote areas, bringing them to school requires actions the State doesn’t take on.

The 2017 national survey by the International Foundation for the Global Economic Challenge (FIDEG) gave us another figure: the national illiteracy rate. According to the Ministry of Education it’s around 5%. But according to FIDEG’s survey, it was 15.4% nationally and exceeded 21% in rural areas and in the Caribbean. We’re returning to an illiteracy level we thought we had overcome.

Another very important indicator is the average years of schooling. According to FIDEG, the national figure was 6.4 years for the population 10 years old and older, but only 4.8 years in rural areas. This indicator is linked to the years of compulsory education established by law, which in Nicaragua is 7 years: third level of preschool and 6 years of elementary. Nicaragua is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean with such a low level of compulsory education. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean has said the minimum educational threshold to get out of poverty and remain out is at least 12 years of schooling.

Another indicator is what the World Bank calls “learning poverty.” Nicaragua is doing very poorly in this regard, with 70% of 10-year-old children—who at that age are in third or fourth grade, sometimes even in fifth or sixth—not understanding what they read, even simple readings. That has consequences. The first is that the parent is likely to say to them: “You aren’t learning anything in school, time to work instead!” They take them out of school because they earn more putting them to work than having them in school where they aren’t learning because they have little or no reading comprehension. Research we did on what it costs a family to have a child in school showed that a family invests three times more in education for a child than the government does. A poor family, for whom this investment costs more, evaluates schooling with hasty criteria: they want visible results and they want them soon. So if the kid stumbles as he reads, doesn’t know how to read or doesn’t understand the content, it means he isn’t learning anything.

Another fact, also from the FIDEG survey, is that the net high school education rate only reached 62% nationally, with 74% in the cities and only 49% in the rural areas. In other words, 4 of every 10 young Nicaraguans don’t have a high school education.

Education isn’t a budget priority

Another important fact is the elementary education budget. Nicaragua has the lowest budget for education in Central and Latin America. It allocated US$500 a year per elementary student, whereas Costa Rica allocates something like US$4,000, and the average in Latin America is US$2,300. The budget dedicated to education today is 3.8% of the gross domestic product (GDP), when it should be at least 7%. At one point we reached 4.5% of the GDP, but it has been decreasing year after year.

In this year’s budget, US$21 million was moved from education to the Police and the Ministry of Government, which is in charge of prisons and is going to build a new prison in Leon. And within the Police, which is the line the government allocates the greatest amount of resources to? “Protection of personalities.” In Nicaragua, protection for the family in power and those closest to it costs us US$10 million a year, scandalous in a country as poor as Nicaragua.

As for university education…

All this data we’ve mentioned refers only to basic and secondary education. We haven’t mentioned university education, a national public asset that has experienced a destructive process by this government, not just now but even since the 1980s. At one point Nicaragua was the second country in Central America to have a very prestigious university, after the San Carlos University of Guatemala. Until recently, Central Americans came to León, known as the “intelligence” of Nicaragua, to study in our national university campus there, which was forged with so much effort. With great insistence, the Ortega regime has been destroying this national heritage, with its strategy of seeking support among the university youth.

University autonomy, an achievement that cost the lives of many, has been totally annulled. After the protests of April 2018, public universities have expelled scores of university students and have illegally and cruelly erased their academic files. They’re not even allowed onto the university campus. Their “civil death” has been decreed. Lists of kids who participated in the protests circulate around high schools and they aren’t allowed to enroll in any public high school, which means they can’t go to school. They too were decreed “civil deaths.”

Dozens of teachers have also been fired and some imprisoned for exercising their right to protest. And in addition, a mafia has been created within the university system. It’s impressive how this regime has installed a mafia system within everything it lays its hands upon. It also tries to control students in different ways through food vouchers and scholarships. They keep silent because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to study.

Because of this national crisis, the challenging international context within the framework of the fourth industrial revolution and those figures that are proof of educational backwardness, we consider education in Nicaragua a national emergency. And we don’t want to stop calling it that. If we don’t solve the problems now, in 10 or 20 years this country won’t be viable. We’ll reach a point at which we won’t be able to recover what we’ve lost because the gap will be too great. To understand the dimensions this gap already has today we need only turn our heads and look at Costa Rica. In a few years we will see a gap so deep and wide there will be no bridges to cross it.

Education isn’t government property

Given this urgency, we propose that education be seen as everyone’s problem and everyone’s responsibility. Education isn’t government property. We all have the right and also the duty to contribute to the educational process. Education affects families, our children, our grandchildren, businesses that look for young people who come out of an educational system well prepared… all of us. And that’s why Nicaragua has to make some serious decisions.

Our country’s first Education Law was approved in 2006. We spent years contributing to that bill. There were long consultation processes. In the end, however, the legislators made their decisions without taking important contributions into account. The law that governs education today has many vacuums, many holes. We will have to make serious decisions when we get out from the current crisis and this government. We have analyzed it and have a proposal for its reform, which would be one of the first measures we hope would be taken when all this changes.

A national dialogue on education

What we propose for that moment is a big national dialogue on education with the participation of all sectors: teachers, NGOs, families, businesspeople, political parties… It should have a methodology that allows for real dialogue. Dialogue, we want to stress, is not when everyone shows up and everyone talks but no one listens. Dialogue is building consensus as different people speak until there are concrete products from that dialogue. A methodology will need to be found that will allow for that consensus-building. From that dialogue national agreements must emerge that can guide national educational policies.

It should be a dialogue in which we don’t argue over trifles. What we must discuss are strategic decisions that will take us to commitments and proposals. And they in turn should conclude in an agreement that enlightens a 50-year educational policy successive governments administer. In other words, a state policy.

It can be done. In 1994, Costa Rica agreed on an Education Plan and this plan has been working ever since, obviously with some adjustments, but in general terms the plan remains.

For this dialogue we have identified seven priorities with a set of tasks. This doesn’t mean there are only seven needs, but these are the most important, and they are catalytic. If we respond to these priorities, it will speed up the resolution of other problems we have. We believe we must start with these seven most important ones because as they are resolved, others will become easier to resolve. In Nicaragua we have the habit of making lists of infinite needs, but we don’t make any progress with them because we don’t have enough financial resources or a lot of time to do all we need to do.

So, what should we prioritize with our few resources and little time?

1. Access with equity

One priority—we aren’t mentioning them in order of importance—is to broaden access to education with fairness. In Nicaragua we continue to use the outdated concept of “equality” from the 1950s, in which it meant “the same for all.” There are school lunch programs in which food is given to all the children. Result: the food isn’t good and many children throw it out because they don’t need it. One can go to some of these schools and see wasted food. What do we need instead? To know which children need food and give it to them. That would allow for better food for those who need it and not bad food for all. The concept that should guide us is equity, not equality. And that concept has to be assimilated by the whole educational system in all its aspects.

If we prioritize access with equity, it will lead us to ask who does not have access to school, who is left out. The poorest, the children who are at the traffic lights cleaning windshields or selling or begging. Those children’s lives have been socialized on the street and their attention span is regulated by the time it takes for the traffic light to go from red to green. How will they feel in a school where everything is regulated by 45 or 90 minutes? Ninety minutes sitting down and paying attention. For there to be equity for these children, other educational models need to be created, models capable of responding to what they need to learn. Access with equity also needs to consider the youths in rural areas who live where there are no schools and no teachers because there aren’t very many children. What modality should we seek for communities with fewer children?

To achieve access to education with equity, there needs to be a vision that adequately focuses on who needs what and how to give it to them. A vision that discovers where to invest so resources aren’t wasted. There are many international experiences that can enlighten us. Decisions will have to be made based on evidence and will need to adjust to each context. Standardizing without considering contexts and specific needs is the best way to waste resources.

2. Quality teacher training

A second priority is teacher training so our teachers can provide quality education. We need to form teachers for the 21st century. We have serious problems with this. Currently we have teachers trained in processes that lack quality, teachers reproducing the country’s poverty and inequality problems, reproducing in their students the same problems they had that weren’t resolved by their own deficient training. It’s important to have teachers who are readers, understand what they are reading and teach their students that fundamental skill.

In the community of Lechecuagos, in León, we validated an initial training model for rural teachers specialized in multi-grade teaching and when we were in the pedagogy class we realized none of them understood what they were reading. So we decided to postpone pedagogy and give them reading classes. Only when they had learned reading comprehension did we move on.

It makes no sense to close our eyes to a problem that exists in the current teaching profession: the lack of training; scant preparation. Many of the teachers who entered “Normal” School (teacher training schools) in 2018 and 2019 came from accelerated elementary and high school education programs, now discontinued. They became teachers by studying only on Saturdays. And these would be the ones who teach first grade, a very important stage of a child’s learning. They will reproduce to infinity the vicious cycle of horrible educational quality in which Nicaragua is trapped.

This cannot continue as it is. It’s just as important to train a teacher as to train a neurosurgeon. A teacher will touch the lives of at least 40 children each year and will work 30 to 40 years. Figure out how many lives a single teacher will touch…for good or for bad. In-service training, when the teacher is giving classes, is a lot more expensive and inefficient than training them from the start. Teacher training cannot remain in the hands of the Ministry of Education’s low-quality “Normal Schools”, which are at a high school level. There are many experiences in the world that don’t necessarily go through a college degree. We have validated and documented experiences and have formed a generation of teachers at Higher Technician levels.

3. Improve the quality of education

A third priority is to improve the quality of education, guided by adequate standards that, besides the basic tools for learning, include the development of emotional intelligence and civic values. The curriculum is currently full of conceptual, declarative content. “What is photosynthesis?” Followed by the definition: “It’s a conversion process of matter that blah, blah, blah…” However, every day we learn something we didn’t know about this process and about so many others.

The way of educating where everything is memorized and recited by memory, must be replaced with an education in which abilities, procedures and methodologies are developed, because the definition they’re forced to memorize can be found on internet. Dates, names, definitions, concepts no longer need to be taught or learned, much less memorized and continuously repeated. We need to teach reading comprehension, creative writing, how to do research, to synthesize, to value whether one kind of information is better than the other and why, to think logically, to think critically, to analyze problems from angles we had never imagined, to find innovative solutions, to think outside the box…

In Latin America, research done around the “one laptop per child” programs, quite a fad a few years ago, showed that children didn’t necessarily learn more or any faster with a computer. It’s possible the programs weren’t guided well, that appropriate learning guides were lacking. There are still schools today where they say: “If I don’t have a computer, I can’t do research.” That isn’t so. If I don’t have a method, I can’t do research. Having a computer isn’t what’s fundamental. What’s fundamental is knowing and applying a research method, whether on a computer or wherever. Frequently it isn’t just that the student doesn’t know a method, but that the teacher doesn’t either. That’s why students just “copy and paste.” Nobody has taught them anything different. Copy and paste becomes a routine while research with a method requires teaching. The ability to do research needs to be taught.

Above all we have to teach them to use “their own words,” their own opinion. We need to teach them to say what convinces them and what doesn’t. This is the quality education we need, with standards that guide abilities. In this descriptive curriculum we have nowadays, teachers are rushing around trying to achieve everything they’re asked to do or be sanctioned. In the end, the least of their worries is whether the child learns anything because they’re all going to pass anyway. The Ministry only cares that statistics say everyone passed. The essential change we must achieve when we transform the educational system should be to form a student body at all levels of critical thinking, capable of critical reflection, thinking differently to interpret reality in different ways and finding solutions never imagined before.

We also need to teach them to know their power. This government has been successful installing within society a very disempowering discourse. We have to be grateful to it for favors that are actually our rights. It’s a populist model in which there are no citizens who demand rights, but clients or beggars to whom handouts are given for which they must be grateful. It’s a disempowering model that makes people believe they have no power and no rights. Or that it’s others who grant them their rights. The government has been effective in this. It’s the most despicable part of this model and the part that will be the hardest for us to overcome when all this is over.

We have to stop reproducing this harmful model, which is also expressed in what we hear these days, even from the mouths of some leaders: “We youth aren’t given space…,” “We peasants aren’t given space…”. When we hear these expressions we must remember Paulo Freire, a very important educator, when he spoke of power. He would say that one’s power doesn’t have so much to do with the amount of it one has, but with how one uses the power one has, no matter how small it is. He would say that if someone only had one square meter of power and doesn’t use it, that power would get usurped by a larger power, and that the only way to have more power is to use what we have, because everyone always has some kind of power. This requires analyzing what we can’t do, but also what we can do. And also understand that if we come together with others our power will be even greater.

4. Reform secondary
and technical education

The fourth priority is to reform secondary and technical education to take advantage of the few years we have left of the demographic dividend. For this we propose accelerated secondary with quality training in labor skills.

Also there should be sex education in schools so adolescents don’t get pregnant too soon, because it’s the main factor preventing them from continuing in school and demands child care, taking away opportunities. More girls are enrolled than boys in Nicaragua and boys drop out more than girls do because they are taken out to go work. Girls also have better learning levels than boys, which shows that in Nicaragua girls are taking more advantages of opportunities. In the rest of Central America, it’s the other way around. However, this advantage for girls in Nicaragua is lost when they reach high school due to the frequency of teenage pregnancies.

5. Invest more in education

A fifth priority is to increase investment in education. The investment we have today only pays fixed expenses. We need a budget that can pay teachers and the Ministry’s staff well, along with the necessary resources to improve infrastructure, educational materials and teacher training. Improve the textbooks, so deficient these days not only because of the grotesque partisan vision given to national history, but for their total lack of literary value. They are poorly written. It’s pitiful that in a country like Nicaragua, with such high quality literature, renowned worldwide, children are offered text books with zero literary quality. It’s pitiful that in the country of poets, the Ministry’s fuctionaries are the ones whose poems and stories are in the text books. These are the books used for our children’s education. Along the way we’re losing a national asset. We are Ruben Darío’s country, but he remains as an elite. The rich cultural background this country has accumulated is not found in the text books our children hold in their hands.

6. Reorganize the educational system

A sixth priority is to reorganize the educational system, forming an authentic educational leadership at a municipal level. The logic of the current educational system will have to change because it’s all centralized in Managua. Everything reaches the schools around the country ready-made. The municipal governments are like mere conveyer belts, headed by a staff hired more for partisan reasons than for any technical skills. We believe that at the central level there should only be a small highly qualified group and in each municipality a high quality leadership that makes decisions most suitable for that municipality’s needs and characteristics.

7. Systematic periodical evaluation

Our final priority is to periodically and systematically evaluate how the country’s education is doing, not because evaluations are a panacea, but because we need “traffic lights,” information that will tell us whether we are going the right way or not. These evaluations will allow us to innovate, then evaluate the results of the innovation. To date, since the Ministry gives no figures and we don’t even know if they do evaluations, we only have input from the standardized tests done by UNESCO at a continental level to evaluate Reading and Mathematics in children from third to sixth grade. These tests tell us that Nicaragua is doing very badly and confirms that we’re getting left behind.

Preconditions to the priorities

These seven priorities have three preconditions. The first is to solve the crisis and establish democracy and institu¬tionality in the country, putting an end to the de facto state of siege and reestablishing liberties. The second is to understand education is everyone’s responsibility. And the third is to instate a major dialogue to debate these and other proposals.

When this happens, the measures to take will be complex and painful and will require a national consensus. I believe the first thing that needs to be done is to reorganize the Ministry of Education’s deficient functioning and the resources invested in it. If the Ministry is not restructured, nothing else can be done. Only after this will priorities start being assumed.

If we achieve legitimate and credible elections and a new government period is opened, it will be a very complex, rocky period, with bands of paramilitaries, the Police and Army in an institutional crises and a Coalition where not everyone will be heading in the same direction. The main task of this new government will be to re-institutionalize the country, creating institutions we can all believe in, achieving a separation of powers and beginning processes of justice…

To head down a road different from the current educational system’s path, we’ll need at least a decade to respond to the educational emergency and move on. The road won’t be easy, but the route is clear and we have the capacity and resources in the country to do it. What we will need is political will. Hopefully all the sectors are clear and the willingness will exist to invest the resources and efforts the educational emergency requires to make Nicaragua a viable country.

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