Fernando Cardenal SJ: “no development without education”
At the beginning of November, Nicaragua population elected president. Of 5 million of Nicaraguan people, 3 million went to the polls to vote. Between the candidates for the presidency, there were two favorites: the old president from 2007, Daniel Ortega with the political party Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), and Fabio Gadea in the opposition with the political party Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI). In spite of the Electoral Observation Missions of European Union (EU) and Organization of American States (OAS/EOMs) denounced "serious limitations of transparency", the results of the ballot give the majority of votes to Daniel Ortega (62, 46%) opposite to Fabio (31%), according to the data of the Supreme Electoral Council of Nicaragua. The rest of the votes were given for the minority political parties.
The continuity in the Ortega´s educational politics is presupposed by the experts. The electoral program has a section to education with the following objectives:
• Quality and access to education for all.
• Respect to culture in education.
• Trainings for educators.
• Transparency and participation in Education.
• Scholarships for young people with higher education or degree and a low salary.
After knowing the results of the election, Fernando Cardenal S.J. published an article on "EL Nuevo Diario", a national newspaper in Nicaragua in which he exposed their opinions about the educational system of Nicaragua and advised to new government. Fernando affirms that every year the investment in education is reduced, from 3,8% of the Gross domestic product in 2009, to 3,6% in 2011. We can affirm that a million of Nicaraguan children will not find a future because they will not be able to find a decent job for a decent life for them and their families. [...] The thing is that, as the Jesuit says: "It is possible to change the situation; we only need a political decision, in other words, we only have to want it".
Open letter by Fernando Cardenal SJ to the new president of Nicaragua
I want to remember you something: there is not development without education. Everyone knows no country has itself got out of the poverty without serious investments in education". At the beginning of October, Inter-American Development Bank encouraged to the presidents of Latin America to invest much money in education to get a development of the countries, as for example, the Brazil´s success in the fight against poverty for the investments in education.
At first sight, we can see the notable difference between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. For that fact, almost half of the Nicaraguan population is working there. They started to invest seriously at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 21th century we have not started to invest in education seriously.
We, as the organism that works in education in Nicaragua and in opinion of independent economists, are agree with an investment of 7% in Nicaragua. This is possible with a political decision, that is, just want it. Moreover, we must remember the over collection of tax from the government. Bolivia is a poor country with an investment of 6% and África, Zimbabue, 6%.
When each kid is born in Nicaraguan, he/she has an inalienable right to quality education but this right is being denied to most Nicaraguan children. I heard old Ministry in Education, Miguel Castilla, that a half million of children out of the educational system and more than a half million are living in precarious educational conditions: multi-degree (a teacher for three or six degrees in the same time) empirical teachers without scholar texts, sometimes without a desk, and a few days of class in the land area. We can say that a million children of Nicaragua are not going to find a decent job for a life for them and their families, and they are not going to contribute in the development of the country.
This is a timer bomb. When these children grow up, they most probably will look for a job abroad what will be terrible for them; or they will succumb to delinquency what is also terrible for them and our country. They will have to survive and will attack to people.
In "Fé y Alegría" we have a slogan: "a kid without education is danger for all". It is not a problem of the Minister of Education. When this timer bomb explodes, Nicaraguan population could be damaged. We see the terrible extremes of the violence in the North of America´s Center with the famous "maras" (gangs). Now we have a better national security but the timer bomb will go off (if we do not take the necessary means to avoid it). We can become a society like in the north of America´s Center.
We have to remember that this is not only about money. Money is necessary but it is not the solution. The Quality in Education, a right for all Nicaraguan children (the key to their future), is get by various aspects in a process: the fundamental element is the educator´s trainings; their motivations in spite of a low salary (they have the lowest salary in America's Center); scholar text for teachers and students; an appropriated educational project in relation to our context and without changes each three years.
I, as Nicaraguan citizen, have the right to demand you to take this text about the problem in Nicaragua seriously. I have the right to demand you a public response about this topic with the appropriated and serious solutions because it is important for all Nicaraguan population.
The letter was published on El Nuevo Diario, a Nicaraguan national newspaper.