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IDB Annual Meeting opens with event to inaugurate school improvements carried out through a public-private-community partnership

IDB President and Panamanian first lady join with community project partners to mark improvements in the Virgin de Guadalupe School in Las Garzas de Pacora

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PANAMA CITY – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) opened its Annual Meeting of Governors with an event to inaugurate improvements for the Virgin de Guadalupe School and other community works in the town of Las Garzas de Pacora, located 30 kilometers from Panama City. The improvement projects were the result of a public-private-community partnership that will help to improve the quality of life of nearly 1,240 students and their families.

IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and Panama’s first lady, Marta Linares de Martinelli, toured the school facilities and spoke with students and parents. Also participating in the event were Frank De Lima, Panama’s minister of economy and finance, Lucy Molinar, minister of education, other ministers and agency heads, and a group of IDB executive directors and senior officials.

The partnership that supported the improvement projects included more than 20 government, business, social society, and community organizations. Improvements included the installation of an “Infoplaza” with access to the Internet, equipping of a mobile technology classroom with computers, and a computer center with access to broadband Internet service, educational software programs, and a virtual library. Training is being provided to teachers and students in the operation of the facilities and equipment.

In addition, the school has received a fully-equipped science laboratory, a school garden, and a lavatory for students with special needs that includes a wheelchair access ramp. Other activities include a school health fair and the rehabilitation of a playground and a soccer field adjacent to the school. The improvement projects were carried out for a total cost of more than $250,000.

"This is a striking example of what it takes to carry out effective development with a multisectoral perspective, bringing different goals together under a central objective, and making compromises to achieve sustainability," said Moreno. "We live in a world in which partnerships such as this should not be the exception but rather an inspiration to drive the changes so needed by communities” he added.

The Panamanian first lady, Marta Linares de Martinelli, expressed pleasure that a community with major needs will benefit from the improvements that have been carried out in the Virgen de Guadalupe School. “These improvements will benefit the country’s future, and our children,” she said. “Clearly, the sum of efforts carried out by the government, NGOs, civil society, and community leaders is a mathematics that does not fail," said the first lady.

Noted Panamanian painter Olga Sinclair organized a painting workshop with students, filling the event with color and art. Participants to the event were entertained by musicians from the Orchestra of the Children and Youth Philharmonic Network of Panama and members of the YOA-Orchestra of the Americas. As part of the event, President Moreno and the first lady read stories to preschoolers and IDB executive directors visited several classrooms to share information about the countries they represent in the Bank.

Established eight years ago, the school is located in a community formed by rapidly growing informal settlements. The school presently has 1,240 students in pre-school and elementary levels through grade 6. It operates two sessions daily with additional evening classes for adults.

Prior to the event, a community participation fair was held in Las Garzas on March 9-10 attended by representatives of more than 30 governmental institutions. Benefiting an estimated 6,500 persons, the event concluded on March 10 with the holding of the National Lottery.

During the school inauguration event, the IDB announced that it will expand its activities in the area of corporate social responsibility to its country offices, which will strengthen commitment in this area by the Bank’s staff and directors. Over the coming months the IDB’s office in Panama will launch the Bank’s first solidarity strategy in the field. The Bank’s Solidarity Unit has carried out IDB initiatives in community relations for the past 15 years.

In Las Garzas, the IDB helped to create the improvements partnership, which consisted of the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the First Lady, the ministries of education, health, and the presidency, the National Secretariat for Science, Technology, and Innovation, the Municipality of Panama, the Office for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises, the National Institute for Vocational Training for Human Development, the Panamanian Institute of Special Rehabilitation, the National Assistance Program, the National Plan for Food and Nutrition Security, and the National Disabilities Secretariat. Private sector participants included Microsoft Corporation,Dell Inc., Scotiabank Panama, and Copa Airlines. Civil society groups taking part were the Parents Association of the Virgin de Guadalupe, the Panama Family Planning Association, the Conexión Foundation, Volunteers of Panama, the Olga Sinclair Foundation, the Orchestra of the Children and Youth Philharmonic Network of Panama, and the Global Youth Service Day Initiative.