El Sistema in Panama

Artículo en español:http://mensual.prensa.com/mensual/contenido/2010/07/18/hoy/mosaico/2263805.asp

Safe Music
A change in class schedules at the National Institute of Music has generated unease, worry and doubt among mothers of students in this institution, and some teachers.

LA PRENSA / Jihan Rodríguez1411563
HELKIN GUEVARAmailto:GUEVARAhguevara@prensa.com

The site becomes a festival of school uniforms. At about 3:00 pm, Monday to Friday, hundreds of young students come to the National Institute of Music or Conservatory, best know him, carrying books, bags, logos and colors of their respective schools.

The mission: to become musicians, follow the path taken by artists such as Danilo Pérez, Jaime Ingram and Roque Cordero.

That ideal is in check, according to a group of mothers of students in this institution training.
They base their discomfort in the absence of some teachers, bad treatment of the students and the quality and quantity of the class received.

There is a new situation, they say, but has increased this semester. The straw that broke the camel was the implementation this year of an education system that has generated divided opinion.

Venezuela is a program that has involved the reduction of school hours, thus weakening the musical development of young people, show the ladies Alba, Jessica Ninoska and who bring their children to be taught in the Conservatory.

Indicate that this method was applied to teachers could attend a student enrollment this semester was twice that of 400 students, which is the figure usually recorded.

The result is a kind of individual instruments a week instead of two, and another group lesson.
And if it is added, the mothers stress that there are teachers who are frequently absent or who are rude to give their lecture, the student completes without giving classes in the week, and if given, they get a scolding or two.

"Some others were missing a lot and need to understand that in some cases dealing with children, seems to be a qualified staff," he said.

According to the mothers, all this has made such great music apprentice registration is a facade.
They say that many students do not attend because they are disappointed with the conservatory. "There are many kids who really want to study music, but needed the support and did not find it here (...) In the few hours of classes given you do see the deterioration in the quality of teaching," lament their mothers.

Osvaldo Sempris, director of the National Institute of Music, has great faith in the system of child and youth orchestra of Venezuela, which has caused much distress to these mothers who give no more signs, fearing reprisals for their children.

Sempris says that this is a method that is applied in many Latin American countries and has had positive results.

The changes are not easy, he says, and the Conservatory are just beginning to use this system, and if it does not work, he will be the first to admit. He says he has the backing of the National Institute of Culture, Ministry of Education and has spoken with colleagues and the conclusion is yes to this scheme.

The current enrollment at this educational institution, details Sempris, is about 900 students and what remains is to calculate when the semester ends, which will only have a few days to see how it goes.

When asked, several teachers indicated that between 30 and 25 students who began the current period, only half or less, will the final exam. The rest retired, did not attend or did not achieve the quality needed for testing.


Students and teachers differ in their views on the quality of classes this semester. Some rescue the positive, others are dissatisfied with the negative aspects and others who consider the situation seems not to give them neither cold nor hot.

For the student Juan Rodriguez, having less class time is detrimental, he understands less, and the teacher demands more, making the process more complicated. "I was better off with the previous system of two hours," believes Rodriguez, who is currently enrroled in a bachelor of percussion.

The percussion student in initiation David Perez has not had any problems with the new method. "Same thing. There is no point to getting more hours if they do not pay attention in class. "
For Andrea del Cid, a student of piano at the high school level, everything goes well during these months.

Carmen Small, who teaches clarinet at this institution for 22 years, disagrees with the change. She explains that in this race, as in others, what matters is not quantity but quality, and that a single hour of class per week is not enough.

She believes that by trying to address irresponsible student enrollment of 900, the Venezuelan system was implemented which, in her view, has not worked because more than half of their students will not take the final exam. "Many left when they came to see that it was only an hour; it was useless accept as many students. It was a disaster, "says Small.

For Teresa Toro guitar teacher, this teaching system can work with adults, they may be given instructions to be followed by themselves, but with younger students is difficult. It is therefore proposed two hours of classes per week.

The piano teacher Maria Ines Rodriguez said that in some cases this method has been very good and in others it falls short. Depends on the level of the student, he says. "With advanced students, one hour of classes is not enough, because they have to work very long and play 45 minutes not enough."


Another concern of parents is the state of the building that houses the Conservatory, located in Albrook. They say it is a structure that has the Sick Building Syndrome, also only has two doors and one is always closed. What if a disaster occurs?

Sempris remarks no studies have been submitted indicating that the present building that condition.

As for the absence of teachers and their rudeness, Sempris responds that teachers are entitled to miss a number of days a teacher justified and if improperly directed a student, the parent must file the complaint in writing.

The semester has few weeks of instruction left, and the numbers of the students who advanced and those that didn not will shed light on whether the Conservatory passed the test.