Cuba’s ‘Si Yo Puedo’ Helps Panama Cut Illiteracy

I live in western Panama in the area that is home to the Gnobe Bugle, the largest Indigenous group in Panama, and the people who likely met Columbus when he put into the area around today’s Bocas del Torro to repair his damaged ships.  Many of our friends, neighbors, and workers are Gnobe Bugle.  And I have a love affair with the people and island of Cuba.  Pearl Cruises has visited Cuba sixteen times, and I have worked on all but the first cruise, and i will be back in Cuba again this winter.  Which is why I find this article so intersting!

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The largest percentage of those who are illiterate in Panama is concentrated in the comarca of Ngabe-Bugle and the provinces of Veraguas and Panama.

Cuba’s internationally recognized literacy program, Yo si Puedo, has helped Panama reduce its illiteracy rate by half over the past 11 years.

In 2010, Panama’s comptroller demographic census revealed that a total of 148,747 people were illiterate. However, 2018 statistics compiled by the Ministry of Social Development, or Mides, show that the total number of illiterate persons has been reduced to 74,080.

In its quest to reduce the illiteracy rate, the Panamanian government adopted Yo Si Puedo, which uses numbers and letters to teach adults how to read and write. One-hundred and fifty Panamanian volunteers were recruited to implement the program said Freddy Alvarez, head of the Cuban collaborator group.

The program lasts for a period of three months and is divided into equal parts: learn how to read and write; transitory period improving reading and writing; and post-literacy or schooling, according to Prensa Latina.

Alvarez emphasized that audiovisual tools and innovative techniques are used to support classes. Each classroom is equipped with a board, television and DVD player and students are provided with pencils and notebooks.

Clara Mendes, the director of Mides, said the largest percentage of those who are illiterate in Panama are concentrated in the indigenous comarca of Ngabe-Bugle and the provinces of Veraguas and Panama.

More than 10 million people in around 30 countries have now learned to read and write through the Cuban literacy program, which currently operates in around 30 countries, from Venezuela, Nigeria, Spain and Australia. Many of the countries that have used the program have seen their illiteracy rates fall dramatically.

Si Yo Puedo is adapted specifically to the geographic areas where it is implemented. Local vocabulary is also used.

TELSUR Prensa Latina

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Bonding with Stanley

Richard and Stanley

So after a month cruising the Great Lakes on PEARL MIST, I’m back home, “relaxing,” i.e. getting caught up on a month’s worth of stuff that needs done, and bonding with our new puppy Stanley.  You can see how much he resists the bonding!  It’s the rainy season, which we love, because by 3 PM it’s raining which is the perfect excuse for stretching out in the hammock on the back porch.

It was a great contract on PEARL MIST including taking the ship to Milwaukee for the first time.  More on that later ….

Another Side of Panama

Here’s a side of Panama you may not know about … and one of the most incredible surfing shots ever, taken right here … in Panama!

Panama Surf

That shot was used for the cover of SURFER magazine and here’s the back story about the wave, the guy, and the shot.  There are many aspects of Panama that are totally unexpected by many folks.  So, there’s a reason why at the baggage claim area in Tocumen International you see all these guys retrieving their way oversized surf boards.