CAFTA Question on Exam Stirs Controversy

November 11, 2005

THE Spanish exam students musttake in order to graduate from high schoolcontained a paragraph criticizing theCentral American Free-Trade Agreementwith the United States (CAFTA), and hasdrawn harsh criticisms from CAFTAadvocates and the leaders of the PublicEducation Ministry.The paragraph, which reads, in part,“CAFTA is not free trade, but a hiddenreform of the state, antidemocratic, withoutdialogue, without debate,” was followedby questions testing the student’scomprehension of the text. Critics havesaid it should not have been included, orthat both pro- and anti-CAFTA viewpointsshould have been expressed,according to the daily La Nación.Wilfredo Blanco, Vice-Minister ofPublic Education, called the question“manipulative” and told the daily, “I amvery bothered and it is a incomprehensiblelack of ethics.” Public Education MinisterManuel Antonio Bolaños has requested areport on the reasons the question wasincluded and is considering possible sanctionsagainst the test’s authors.The instructors who wrote thatsection of the test had drawn the sectionfrom the University of Costa Rica weeklypaper El Semanario, and said they neverhad expected it to cause so much controversy,the daily reported.

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