Caribbean Public Education Systems Adrift Due to the Coronavirus

Within days from each other, public education systems in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Cuba suspended classes in schools in March this year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. With no time, tools or defined public policies to lay down strategies that would somehow ensure and measure student participation and progress, distance learning had predictable results. The structural deficiencies of the education systems, the social inequality experienced by students and teachers, the digital gap, and the absence of processes for the participation of school communities in the design of educational plans, are unsolved dilemmas for back to school, amid the latent threat of COVID-19. “We hardly learned anything,” said a 13-year-old Puerto Rican student about the abrupt change in his learning process since classes were suspended. Another young boy, 14, recalled how difficult it was to adopt a study routine with his younger sister and mother: “I’m a Special Education student and we’re used to a certain pace and support.”

Sin rumbo los sistemas de educación pública en el Caribe ante el coronavirus

Las deficiencias estructurales de los sistemas de enseñanza, la desigualdad social entre estudiantes y maestros, la brecha digital y la ausencia de procesos que integraran a las comunidades escolares en el diseño de los planes educativos, son dilemas no resueltos de cara al regreso a clases, sin que la amenaza de contagio por COVID-19 se haya disipado.

Climate talks said to bode ill for PR, other islands 

MADRID — No Puerto Rico delegation took part in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid, but decisions made as the fractious two-week meeting came to a close on last Sunday could spell disaster for the territory if the United States and a handful of other large countries don’t change their ways, island nations said. “The big polluters and the countries that emit the most are not wanting to take responsibility or leadership,” said Ramón Cruz, a Puerto Rican expert in climate change and international relations and vice president of the Sierra Club, adding, “We’re living the effects of the climate emergency and they’re not standing up to the problem.”

As a US territory, Puerto Rico — which was named the country that suffered the most from extreme events from 1999 to 2018 in the 2020 Global Climate Risk Index — is not allowed to send its own delegation to participate in the crucial annual negotiations. “It’s very difficult for us to really play any part in it because we’re represented there technically by the US, and the US could not care less about Puerto Rico,” said Mr. Cruz. Under President Donald Trump, he added, the US hindered progress at the talks even though it plans to withdraw next year from the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which commits nations around the world to work toward cutting carbon emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “It was really unfortunate that the Trump administration was throwing so many wrenches in the process even though they don’t want to engage,” said Mr. Cruz.

Foro mundial sobre el cambio climático sin buenas noticias para PR y otras islas

MADRID — Ninguna delegación de Puerto Rico participó en la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático en Madrid, pero las decisiones tomadas durante la accidentada conferencia de dos semanas que terminó el domingo podrían significar un desastre para el territorio si los Estados Unidos y un puñado de otros países grandes no cambian sus estilos, dijeron las naciones isleñas. “Los grandes contaminadores y los países que producen más emisiones de carbono no quieren asumir la responsabilidad o el liderazgo”, dijo Ramón Cruz, un experto puertorriqueño en cambio climático y relaciones internacionales y vicepresidente del Sierra Club. “Estamos viviendo los efectos de la emergencia climática y no están enfrentando el problema”. Como territorio, Puerto Rico — que fue catalogado como el país que más sufrió por los eventos extremos de 1999 a 2018 en el Índice Global de Riesgo Climático 2020 — no tiene derecho a  enviar su propia delegación a participar en las negociaciones anuales que se consideran cruciales. “Es muy difícil para nosotros participar de forma real en esto porque estamos representados técnicamente allí por los Estados Unidos, y a los Estados Unidos no podría importarle menos Puerto Rico”, dijo Cruz.