Local June 10, 2023 | 11:02 am

Valdez professor who created English Immersion program says plan “is on the floor”

Professor Juan Valdez, creator of the English Immersion program, says ministers have not wanted to evaluate its results.

The English Immersion program, in which the government has invested more than 5 billion pesos, “is on the floor,” said its creator, Juan Valdez, who revealed that the authorities have refused to evaluate it since it was launched 18 years ago.

“In education, what is not evaluated, is devalued. That was what happened to Immersion English,” expressed Professor Valdez, who reported that despite repeated proposals over the 18 years of the program’s development, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, and Technology (MESCyT), has never evaluated it.

Valdez explained that since the formal beginning of the project in 2005, he has proposed to the governments to evaluate and redefine it. As soon as there was a change of governmental administration, the Association of English Teachers in the country took the petition to the authorities without obtaining a positive response.

Its proponent and creator stated that the quality of this program, in which “no less than 5,000 million pesos” has been invested, is “on the floor.”

And that this can be proven considering that in 2019, 70% of the boys who graduated from the program and took the test to become English monitors failed.

“How do you have a program for more than 15 years without evaluating it? How do you know it works? Immersion English is a state patrimony, you can’t have a state program without evaluating it,” said the also president of the Teachers Association in the national territory.

“I was the one who created it. I can tell you that it is not fulfilling its objectives. Go to the MESCyT website and check what the objectives of English Immersion are, and try to find some evidence that those objectives are being met. You’re not going to find it,” Valdez added.

The also director of the Dominican Educational Observatory pointed out that the former Minister of Higher Education, Alejandrina German Mejia, in her then administration six years ago, was asked to evaluate and redefine the program. However, she did not accept it.

The English Immersion Program for Competitiveness was born in 1999, under the proposal of Professor Juan Valdez, as his first project and presented to the then National Council of Higher Education, then the MESCyT.

Lack of teachers

After President Luis Abinader described the goal of making the country bilingual as “unpostponable” in San Francisco de Macoris, the lack of English language teachers hindered this presidential wish.

The lack of language teachers has forced the Dominican Association of Teachers (ADP) to place teachers of other subjects to teach languages in this distinction.

“There are teachers from other areas teaching languages out of necessity, it is not because it was determined that they have the competencies or not, but to guarantee that these subjects are taught, not so that the children have the competence, but to fill in,” expresses Robert Frias, president of the ADP in that locality.

Considering that the teachers appointed by the Ministry of Education are sent to the secondary grades since the Ministry of Education’s regulations do not contemplate the teaching of the language from preschool to fifth grade.

In San Francisco de Macorís, only two universities offer a degree in languages, the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) and the Universidad Católica Nordestana (UCNE).

Similarly, in the area of languages, the only qualified teachers currently available are those who graduated with a degree in tourism and took a teaching qualification and then participated in the competitive examination in the years 2015-2017, according to Frias.

According to the ADP president, the approximate number of schools needing language teachers in San Francisco de Macoris is equivalent to 20%.

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