Thousands of students registered in the Conéctate con la Estrella program, of the Ministry of Education (Meduca), received in the last school year the modules through the open and cable signal of Canal TV. Likewise, another 20 thousand received audiovisual information about the Panama Canal, added to the tablets distributed as part of this initiative.
The 2020 school year began in March, but was interrupted that same month due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced Meduca to start distance or virtual learning in April. The radio and television modules, and the delivery of tablets add to the number of students who lack Internet connectivity.
Similarly, the National Authority for Government Innovation (AIG) launched the mobile application ESTER, so that these students can connect from Android and iOS devices (Apple mobile devices), without Internet connection.
Initially, the modules were broadcast through Nacional FM, Crisol FM and Radio Nacional AM, of the state-owned Sistema de Radio y Televisión (Sertv), which were later joined by commercial radio stations, and as of May, by television stations, both educational and commercial.
The Panama Canal joined the Meduca initiative in October 2020. In November, both institutions signed an Interinstitutional Cooperation Framework Agreement, thus formalizing the waterway’s adhesion to the Connect with the Star program, which has been a great success, according to the initiative’s National Coordinator, César Castillo.
“All the help that Meduca receives in these times of pandemic is well received, especially when we have an institution like the Panama Canal, which with the experience it has in television production, and printed material that has also been made available to Meduca, are being used, and we have also recorded offline content that is sent to the different remote regions of the country to provide an educational response to the children who have less,” he said.
He explains that, as a result of this framework cooperation agreement, Meduca has spaces on Canal TV, in open and cable signals to broadcast programs such as English, which were not included in the Conéctate con la Estrella platform.
Target figure: to connect 800 thousand students
According to official figures, the country’s student population was 877,147, both in official and private schools. As last year, Meduca has announced that at least the first quarter of the 2021 school year will be distance or virtual. In other words, the modules will be maintained.
The scope of the program is measured by the Evaluation Directorate of the Ministry of Education, in addition to the whatsapp records of the telephone numbers made available to parents and students of the official and private sector.
“We estimate that 70% of that population (of 800 thousand students) has access to this programming that is broadcast for the different levels of education, on radio and television”, points out the official program coordinator.
Panama Canal tutorial videos
The tablets distributed to students without Internet connection, contain tutorial videos produced by the Panama Canal, on the history and operation of the waterway; its watershed; impact of climate change; water resource management; future projects to ensure drinking water for the population and the ship transit operation for the next 50 years, says Alexis Espino, Design and Audiovisual Production Manager of the Canal.
Briefly, he stresses, “the tutorial videos are framed in each of the activities that the Panama Canal carries out every day in favor of Panama and all Panamanians”.
The 2021 school calendar began with the entry of teachers on February 2 and students started virtual classes on Monday, March 1.
“For the 2021 school year, we continue in alliance with Meduca to continue taking the My Panama Canal modules to every student in the country, which seek to teach about the importance and value that the waterway represents for the country,” said Alexis Espino.
Framework Cooperation Agreement
The Framework Interinstitutional Cooperation Agreement between the Panama Canal and Meduca establishes the exchange of experiences, documents, information and results of the research and/or programs carried o1ut by one of the parties, which are of public access, subject to the legal norms and regulations of the entity, as well as the development of joint research, programs and projects of mutual interest.
Likewise, Meduca will incorporate updated information on the Canal in the official study plans and programs of General Basic and High School Education, and will guarantee that the national curriculum includes topics related to the interoceanic waterway.