Henry George ...
Class in Economía Política Graduates
Managua, August 31, 2000 -- The Instituto Henry George's second intensive "Comprender la Economía" Political Economy class graduated August 30th from the second formal course on Political Economy given in Nicaragua by the Instituto Henry George since its founding in April, of this year. The success of this second course shows the great demand in Nicaragua for coherent information that offers a solution to their never ending economic problems and growing social disillusionment with the current "neo-liberal" economic system.
Over 350 people (plus an uncounted significant number of phone calls) responded to a classified advertisement in the main Managua newspaper to come to the IHG office and obtain the class application for the free "Comprender la Economía" course. The advertisment promised that the course would explain the economic solution to Nicaragua'a socio-economic problems and indicated the possibility that some graduates would possibly be eligible for paid temporary volunteer positions with the Instituto and for an invitation to an advanced teacher training course.
The notable difference in the promotion and registration for this second course was in the number of solicitations of information packets and applications received by the Instituto. With only one week of promotion (compared to two weeks for the previous course) via classifed ads in both main Nicaraguan daily newspapers, the response in solicitations of applications was almost double (175% more) that of the previous class and the number of actual applications was 244% more (176 compared to 72) than the previous class with more coming in for days after the deadline.
The requirement for application and the class structure were largely the same as for the previous class including the12 question test on political economy. The intensive course was for two weeks with one class review session added, for a total of seven nights and 21 hours. The higher qualifying applicants were invited to register for the course and then the other lower qualifying group as well, until the class limit of 50 was registered. Registration required the purchase of the same two class texts (Progreso y Miseria abreviated version and the "Comprender la Economía" study guide which uses materials found on the Henry George Institute website) at the price of the Institute's cost of reproduction, thus requiring a commitment on the part of the students. More than 110 applicants arrived to register for the course. The first 50 were registered for the limited class spaces and the other 60 students who were ready to register were promised that they would be invited to register for the next course. Another 3 students from the previous course who didn't qualify at the top level also registered to take the course again. The Instituto plans to expand the class size on the next CE intensive course to 100 students.
The course took place from August 7 to 21 near the Instituto office at the same local church which housed the first course. The Director of the IHG, Paul Martin again acted as the professor of the course. Mr. Martin was assisted by 2 to 3 graduates of the previous course who helped with the class administration and correction of homework, and observed the class process.
The professor (standing) and some of the 53 students who started the August 2000 CE course.
The requirements for course participation continued to be full and punctual class participation. If a student arrived late or left early, their participation in the course was terminated. This is a demanding requirement given the Nicaraguan cultural tendency of arriving late. Of the 53 students who started the course, 28 finished, compared to 24 for the previous course. Each class had homework due the next class which had as many as 30 questions based upon the text being studied. Due to experience of the first class, the homework questions were somewhat reduced and improved for ease of correction. With the help of volunteers, the Instituto was able to hand back homework to students at each class during the course instead of at the end of the course as in the previous class. The Instituto plans to redesign and simplify the homework even more in order to handle the larger class sizes of the future. The final class was an optional review of all the homework questions and was attended by about 3/4 of the class finishers.
As in the first course, a final paper summarizing the georgist argument was due at the end of the week after the last class. Of the 28 class finishers, 23 handed in their final paper on time. 9 qualified with a grade of 80% or more at a level of "Superior Competence in Political Economy", 9 qualified with 70% to 79% at "Intermediate Competence", and another 4 qualified with 60-69% at "Basic Competence".
The Instituto again sponsored a graduation event at a local restaurant where the certificates of "Competence in Political Economy" were awarded. The event was well attended and many students brought a family member of friend to the event. Students applauded each other in the act of receiving their certificates. The Director of the IHG addressed the group congratulating them on their accomplishment and inviting them to participate in subsequent classes to obtain the higher certification levels. The Instituto handed out and received back an evaluation form filled out by each student inquiring about their experience in the course and about their interest in participating in subsequent volunteer activities of the Instituto. Many students indicated their disposition to participate as IHG vounteers.
August 7-21, 2000 IHG "Comprender la Economía" graduates.
This second "Comprender la Economía" course was a step forward for the Instituto in many ways. The large number of applicants showed us the great demand and acceptance of the information we are teaching. This second group was more mature than the first, with most of the students being older professionals and less being students. At first, the class seemed to have more trouble grasping the content than did the first class, but by the fifth class, it seemed that those who remained had a grasp of the content and were accepting its validy and importance. It appears that this group may offer up some viable candidates for the advanced teacher training course as well as a couple of students interested and capable of realizing an empirical study on land use and Land Value Tax application in Nicaragua.
A subsequent meeting of invited class graduates of the "Superior" qualification was attended by all 14 of the invitees who expressed their interest and enthusiasm in participating in the various projects of the Instituto.
"Work with passion,
have fun, save the world!"
"Trabajar con pasión, divertirse, salvar el mundo!"
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since September 7, 2000