Published by Alma
By Nubia Piqueras Grosso/Prensa Latina
Less than a year ago, Victor Jorge Salfran came to this city as an adviser to the literacy program, which the Ministry of Social Development of Panama has been running for ten years in conjunction with the Cuban Ministry of Education.
Although this is not his first mission abroad, since he worked previously in the Nicaraguan community of Jinotega, the Cuban professor told Prensa Latina that he was surprised by the number of illiterates who live in the Panamanian capital, most of whom are indigenous people.
That is the case of 11 illiterates from the Guna Yala indigenous group who are currently living in the neighborhood of Santa Ana, known for the high level of danger and drug use among people, as is the case of Luisito, a 16-year-old boy, who never went to school because he refused to study.
However, the Luz y Oportunidades foundation attracted him and he is taking classes today with the Cuban method ‘Yo Si Puedo’ (Yes, I Can), as well as the indigenous people, whose vast majority never had access to education or, in other cases, they had to drop out, the teacher, born in Santiago de Cuba, said.
The program is fostered, in most cases, by high-school students who, as part of their training, should do some 80 hours of social work. ‘Once there are selected, they are trained to teach for seven weeks, a period during which people learn to read and write’, explained the professor, who acknowledged that as the process progresses, habits of coexistence and empathy are created between the indigenous people and the volunteers.
The national coordinator of the Literacy Campaign ‘Muevete por Panama’ (Move for Panama), Fredy Alvarez, highlighted the participants’ willingness to learn through the Cuban method and the dedication of the trainers, who are capable of contributing from their perspective and creativity so that people in need can achieve their goal.