Thursday, March 27, 2008
Part 3 – 20 Critical Problems that Keep Colombia in the Third World
For Foreign Nationals and Expatriates with Children
For foreign nationals and expatriates with children you’ll have some of the following concerns in addition to a few others of your own in these critical areas. Here in part three, we continue to consider critical problems of Colombian society including the educational system, consumer protection laws, crime, minorities and the impact of unemployment that reaches as high as 80% - no, that’s not a misprint. Read on …
11. The education system promotes "vagabond" attitudes.
There currently exists a policy in public schools NOT to “fail” learners. You can miss classes (Did YOU ever play “Hookey”?). You can fail even an endless string of “makeup” exams. You can neglect study, class participation, homework or virtually productive activity in class and the learner will still “pass” to the next grade level at the end of the school year. Now in many schools, there is no homework. Slothful, slow, uncaring and unmotivated learners pass from one grade to the next with practically no effort at all knowing that they almost can’t fail. This means that barring all else the learners don’t get their rude “wake-up” call until they enter the university level or the workforce and find out, that in life, you can fail. The quality of Colombian education can vary widely depending on location, cost and administration from primary through the university level.
12. There is little or NO consumer protection.
Talk about a bone to pick, this one’s a biggie for me. Never before has the phrase “Caveat emptor” – “Let the buyer beware” been more appropriate. From buying a house or condo, to a car, major appliances, furniture or goods and services (maids, plumbers, electricians, contractors) of all types, there is practically no recourse for an unwary consumer. Sellers disappear moments after a major sale, consumer cases rarely make it to a court docket and enforcement of contracts or legal agreements can be laughable. Workers, when hired for in-house jobs in any occupation, trade or service must be constantly be “watched” to avoid theft, taking excessive “breaks” or simply “goofing off” on the job. There is no “overall system” for certifying workers or professionals, so finding competent service personnel can be a bit of a challenge most of the time.
13. Cities and regions of the country inhabited primarily by minorities are highly under-developed.
The first few times I went into black-populated regions of the Pacific coast, I nearly cried at the absolutely primitive conditions people live in – this is the 21st century, I reminded myself. Men have landed on the moon, orbited the earth for weeks at time, plumbed the ocean’s frigid depths and constructed buildings that stand up through the clouds. Yet people are obliged to live without even the most basic of amenities. No running water or toilets. No electricity. Forget even the hint of a telephone. Unpaved streets and roads where there are even roads at all. Constant flooding. No sewage facilities. Flies and mosquitoes infest everything bringing the predictable diseases with them. Poor diets consisting of but a few fruits, vegetables and whatever they can hunt. In 2001 though, Colombia crowned Vanessa Alexandra Mendoza Bustos, originally from one of Colombia’s poorest most undeveloped regions – the Choco, its first black Miss Colombia. Even a more recent black Miss Colombia finalist also stated that she had “never seen a car until she was nearly 20 years old”!
14. Unemployment is often at sky-high rates and is continually rising.
The stark contrast of the “Haves” and the “Have Nots” has almost never been more pronounced than it is here. The city of Cartagena, the so-called “crown jewel” of Colombia is but one example. While millions of dollars are spent to fund the pageantry of the Miss Colombia Beauty Pageant, just a few blocks away local residents endure flooding, open sewers, rotting buildings and other basic amenities – even while the pageant is in progress. The unemployment rate among blacks in the area is reputed to be in excess of 80%. Is it any wonder that crime is a major problem there and in other locales as well? But this of course, is not the face of Cartagena that gets publicized outside of Colombia.
15. Violent crimes are considered passé.
It used to be that violent, heinous crimes shocked, staled and amazed even the staunchest of us. Not here, not anymore. When Luis Alfredo Garavito, one of Colombia’s most notorious convicted serial child murderers (who has now confessed to more than 200 child murders over a multi-year period) was released from prison, not once, but TWICE, families and residents were finally up in arms. Each time he was released, more children died. He almost got released again a couple of years ago, but fortunately, hasn’t been so far. Violent murders on the streets of Cali, Bogota and Medellin, Colombia’s three largest cities, hardly rate the news anymore with only the most bizarre, tragic or heinous of these ever being reported. How would you feel if you’d personally witnessed 11 violent murders in the streets as I have over the past twelve years?
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: email@example.com Need a blog or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.