The traits and dynamics of educational systems highlight and determine the development of society to a large extent. In the Dominican Republic, education has been declared a pillar of the new national economic model, passing relevant milestones that have guided the search for equity and quality of education.
Among them, we can mention the following, which are complemented by other important definitions at the national and international levels :
In the early 1990s, civil society and some sectors of the business community began to worry about education, making the issue part of their agendas and collaborating with the Ministry of Education. This resulted in initiatives such as the Ten-Year Education Plan of 1992, and the creation of the General Education Act No. 66-97 .
The Plan is a national effort to establish policies and strategies that help guide the development of quality education. The core themes of the 10 policies that make up the Plan are: early childhood education and primary education; increased coverage of secondary education and adult education; curriculum development and improvement of core competencies – reading, logical reasoning, values, sciences, ICTs; evaluation of the entire pre-university education system; compliance with school schedules required for quality education; professional development of teaching staff; educational equity and support for the most vulnerable segments; community participation in the development of educational policies, programs and projects; strengthening of the education system; and financing for education.
The design of this strategy has been the result of consensual work carried out with the participation of broad national and international sectors. Its purpose is to promote national development and economic growth that would result in greater levels of equity, freedom and civil rights. The END (for its Spanish acronym) includes pillars, objectives and courses of action aimed at promoting change and the improvement of the Dominican education system.
The educational sector is framed in pillar No. 2 of the National Development Strategy 2010-2030: “A society with equal rights and opportunities, in which the entire population is guaranteed to receive quality education, health and basic services, and which promotes the gradual reduction of poverty and social and territorial inequality.” In turn, general objective 2.1 provides: “Quality education for all” and has engendered specific objectives. Specific objective 2.1.1 establishes: “Education must be universal from early childhood education until high school is completed” and specific objective 2.1.2 mandates: “Establishment and assurance of a quality national education system that trains people to learn continuously throughout their lives, fosters human development and a gradual implementation of responsible citizenship within the framework of moral values and ethical principles consistent with sustainable development and gender equity.”
In 2010, Dominican civil society launched a campaign to claim 4% of the country’s GDP for pre-university education (from a very low starting point, which was around 2%). It was a novel popular movement focused on the defense of the right to a decent education, through demonstrations, and educational and cultural activities that took place throughout the country. In the end, the signing of the Political and Social Commitment for Education was achieved, in which all presidential candidates pledged to meet the 4% target.
Fifteen years after its enactment, the foundations have been laid so that the provision established in the General Education Act 66-97 is complied with: to devote 4% of GDP to education. At this moment (in 2012) it became urgent to plan how to use the ample growth of the resources allocated for the education system. In this context, the Dominican Initiative for Quality Education, IDEC, was born as a 4-year planning model, coinciding with the new government administration.
The IDEC (for its Spanish acronym) was born as a space for dialogue and consultation between the various key players involved in education in the Dominican Republic. This initiative defined 10 educational policies (working groups 1 to 10), 30 priorities and 87 actions. In addition, it created a system of monitoring and evaluation to ensure compliance with these commitments.
Representatives from civil society organizations, the private sector, the public sector, along with a variety of experts and international agencies were organized into thematic working groups. The working groups were made of 300 experts from the various sectors, who participated on a voluntary basis in this process. Each working group was responsible for a specific problem, and presented both assessments and possible solutions. Based on the agreements established by each working group, a detailed plan was drawn up, including measures, timing, indicators and responsible parties.
The 10 working groups were:
Working group 1: Curriculum development, knowledge management and quality assessment.
Working group 2: Development of the teaching career.
Working group 3: Compliance with the school calendar and school schedule.
Working group 4: Comprehensive services in Early Childhood Education.
Working group 5: Improvement of Primary Education: first levels and internal efficiency.
Working group 6: Coverage and quality of Secondary School and Technical and Vocational Education.
Working group 7: Literacy and Primary Education for youths and adults.
Working group 8: School infrastructure.
Working group 9: Support to students in vulnerable conditions.
Working group 10: Institutional modernization and school administration.
Among the major challenges of the 2012-2016 educational policy, which are reflected in IDEC’s background document, are:
Every six months, through monitoring and evaluation reports, progress made and difficulties encountered along the way have been analyzed.
Signed on April 1st, 2014 by various stakeholders of Dominican society, the Pact established a series of agreements and commitments of various kinds involving public policies and legislative reforms, promoting paradigm shifts and demanding public and private efforts to guarantee the fundamental right of the children, youth and adults to receive quality education, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Dominican Republic.
It will be in effect until 2030 and any changes that it may undergo during that time must be made through a process that is pluralistic, collective and with broad participation, in order to ensure its legitimacy.
It is understood that the transformation of the education system requires that every effort be made to ensure the financing and development of each and every one of the agreements derived from the Pact, within a framework of transparency, accountability and evaluation.
With regard to the democratization of and equal opportunities to access education, the Pact indicates that the Dominican government has an obligation to promote education beginning from the student’s earliest years.
Thus, the State must ensure that early childhood, and primary and secondary education are universal; promote technical and technological education; foster higher education, as well as develop the subsystem of adult education as well as formal, non-formal and informal education.
With regard to pre-university education, the Plan considers that the State must comply with what is established in the National Development Strategy and offer free, compulsory, and quality public education starting with early childhood education at 3 years old.
It should also broaden the coverage of comprehensive care starting in early childhood for children under 5 years of age; develop strategies to ensure timely entry, reintegration and overcoming exclusion and dropping out of school; build the necessary number of classrooms, and hire the necessary number of teachers with the required qualifications in order to provide quality education.
In addition, the State must ensure the development of educational infrastructures that respond to population projections, that strengthen and implement programs for sexual education and support schemes for teenage mothers and fathers, as well as to coordinate with the Central Electoral Board on the issuance of birth certificates to all children and their families.
The National Pact for Educational Reform considers that the offer of higher education should be developed based on the needs of the population, taking into account the various categories and modalities that would ensure equity in coverage.
This agreement believes that existing infrastructures should be improved, maintained and expanded; that coverage of higher technical education should be broadened through the creation of a network of regional community technical institutes; and, that higher education offerings should be promoted through the virtual modality.
It also promotes improvement in education and technical-vocational training throughout the Dominican Republic, as well as the design and implementation of a strategy for the revaluation of education for the training of technicians, aimed at young people, families, employers and the educational community.
Other initiatives pursued by the Pact include the development of a school transportation system; the provision of a student identification card; implementation of a comprehensive school health program; eradication of child labor; implementation of a system of grants and scholarships for students; and, establishment of centers that provide comprehensive early childhood services in proximity to universities.
 At the local level, the New Constitution of the Dominican Republic of 2010 is highlighted. At the international level, the definition of the 2021 Educational Goals, coordinated by the OEI, becomes relevant.
 See the bulletin of systematization of the ten-year education plans of the Socio-Educational Forum (2011).
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