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Proof of a growing public interest in this service is shown by the demand of farmers for forest tree seedlings for wind-breaks, shelterbelt, and productive woodlots. This demand exceeded the productive capacity of the present nurseries of the Forest Service. In all, the Service distributed 1,981,731 forest trees and 27,107 fruit trees. Of the 42 states and two territories that receive Federal aid in farm forest planting, Puerto Rico ranked fifth in number of trees actually grown and distributed in 1944.
Plant Quarantine Service: A total of 4,998 airplanes and 811 ships arriving from foreign countries and the United States via foreign countries were inspected, also 992 planes and 742 ships arriving from the United States and its territories. Of this total of 7,533 ships and planes, 552 were found with prohibited material and 1,237 with restricted material.
Fishing: The stimulation of a local fishing industry continued to be the aim of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The year's accomplishments include the sale of fishing materials throughout the Island, the construction of a freezing unit at Fajardo and the purchase of 10 boats for the establishment of a fishing fleet.
Commerce: The total dollar value of exports fell from $147,735,768 in 1943–44 to $116,203,959 in 1944–45. These figures, however, do not reflect a general decline but rather the effect of a marked decrease in the shipments of rum and sugar, the latter being caused by the delay in the sugar harvest occasioned by the cane workers' strike. Most other products exported from the Island showed a decided increase over both last year and the pre-war year of 1939-40.
The most noticeable gain was registered in tobacco, both manu factured and unmanufactured, which rose from $7,881,337 in 1943-44 to $22,295,457 in 1944-45. Needlework, always one of the most important exports of the Island, increased by almost $1,000,000 over 1943–44, and by almost $6,000,000 over 1939–40.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION During the school year 1944-45, the efforts of the Division of Supervision of the Department were centered around the evaluation of the work done during the first three-year cycle of operation of the school system under the 6–3–3 plan. An Island-wide survey was made of the physical plant, distribution and assignment of teachers, enrollment and materials of instruction. An intensive study was also made of the administrative, supervisory and instructional work being done in five selected school districts.
Total enrollment in all public and accredited private day schools was 345,090, of which 330,870 were in public schools. This represents an increase of 7.1 per cent over 1943–44. The gain resulted, however, from an increase in the number of students attending school either on a half day basis or under the interlocking system. The number of those enrolled on a full basis actually declined by 10,233. Only 53 per cent of the total school population (those between the ages of 6 and 18) attended any public or private day school during 1944 45.
As in the preceding year, the greatest increase in enrollment occurred at the secondary level. Senior high schools enrolled 19,604 or 25.7 per cent more pupils than in the previous year and junior high schools enrolled 53,372.or an increase of 13 per cent. Elementary school enrollment, however, declined by one per cent in rural areas.
Two major obstacles to the extension of educational services in Puerto Rico are the lack of buildings and trained teacher personnel. Of the 2,733 school buildings in use in 1941–45, 1,089 were not government owned. The six-year program for 19445 to 1949-50 estimates that 8,124 additional school rooms are needed to equalize educational opportunities on the Island. Eighty-six new school rooms were constructed during the fiscal year.
The war has accentuated the teacher problem by causing many teachers to leave their profession either to enter the armed forces or for more remunerative work in other fields. This has made necessary the employment of many emergency teachers who lack proper training or experience. Of the 7,556 teachers employed in the public schools in 1944-45, 53 per cent were normal school or college graduates.
Expenditures for educational purposes during the fiscal year totalled $18,789,356.33, equivalent to $56.79 per pupil enrolled. Lunch-rooms, which were operated in every municipality, functioned at a cost of $4,857,844.46. Of this sum the Federal government provided food valued at $2,527,866.
The schools continued to contribute generously to the war effort. War bond and stamp sales amounted to $1,871,387.20, or $833,767.99 more than were sold in the previous year.
The teaching of English at all levels of instruction was handicapped by lack of experienced teachers. Various methods of teacher guidance were adopted to cope with this problem. Institutes were held throughout the Island for teachers of English. The basic vocabulary and reading materials were revised as the result of teacher reports. Circular letters and bulletins devoted to different aspects, of teaching English were distributed among the teachers. Five junior high schools experimented successfully with an English Laboratory period which represented a doubling of the time previously devoted to the subject.
The course of Community Problems that was introduced in all elementary schools in 1942–43 was supplemented by the publication of a new paper called Problemas de la Comunidad to furnish students with material on the economic and social conditions of Puerto Rico. Teacher guidance in this subject was strengthened through demonstration lessons, group conferences and the distribution of bulletins .containing background material.
There are now 141 second unit schools in rural areas where junior high school courses are offered. Since 1931 these schools have been enlarging their curriculum to include courses in vocational agriculture for boys and in home economics for the girls. The six-year program in education has endorsed this policy and recommends that small farms, not to exceed 10–12 acres each, be purchased for the use of second unit schools wherever the land now in use has been under lease or is insufficient for agricultural practices. Seven farms valued at $19,710 have already been acquired and negotiations started for the purchase of 49 other parcels of land.
On the senior high school level, attention was focused on the improvement of teaching techniques and further revision of the curriculum to fit the needs of the school population. The college preparatory course is being eliminated and a more general course substituted for it.
Classes for adult education in all of the 77 municipalities had a total enrollment of 4,330 as compared to 8,009 last year. Classes were organized for illiterate students, advanced groups, English groups, sixth grade and eighth grade groups. At the end of the school year 221 eighth grade diplomas and 641 sixth grade diplomas were granted.
At the beginning of the year 1945, the extension day schools were reorganized as regular high schools. Total enrollment was 2,541 and 146 high school diplomas were issued. Summer high schools were organized in 19 towns and enrolled 3,312 students.
Increasing emphasis is being placed on the use of visual aids to instruction in all schools on the Island. The Bureau of Adult and Extension Activities has developed a sizable library of movies, slides and stereographs, and acts also as the distribution center for educational films released by the Office of Inter-American Affairs.
During the past school year the Bureau maintained 500 radio sets in public schools for the reception of educational and cultural programs broadcast by the School of the Air.
The stimulus given Trade and Industrial Education by the war was removed with the discontinuance of the War Production Training Program in May 1945 and the consequent loss of Federal funds. Plans are being made to reorganize this Division on a permanent regular basis. During the year 1944-45 more than 400 students were placed in Army and Navy projects and returning veterans were enrolled in various courses. The Legislature appropriated $847,000 for the construction of vocational school buildings at Ponce, Arecibo and Mayagüez and $10,000 for the purchase of equipment and supplies for the Division of Trade and Industrial Education. The equipment of the regular shops was greatly improved by the transfer of materials from the shops of the War Production Training Program.
Total enrollment in all-day classes in vocational agriculture for the year 1944-45 was 4,405. School farm activities produced an income of $31,820.08 up to May 31, 1945. Of this sum, $6,423.77 was distributed among pupils engaged on farm projects in the second unit schools. Active chapters of the Future Farmers of America functioned in 92 schools with a membership of 3,279.
The cost of rehabilitating disabled veterans is financed entirely by the Federal government. By June 30, 1945 the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation had a total case load of 4,287 disabled persons, of whom 11 have been transferred to the Veterans' Administration.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH The vital statistics for the calendar year 1944 show no significant change in Puerto Rico's population problem. The actual rate of population increase is about 55,000 per year. Estimated as of July 1, 1944, the inhabitants of the Island numbered 2,012,167, which represents an average density of 586 persons per square mile. The birth rate in 1944 was 41.0 per 1,000 and the death rate was 14.8 per 1,000, both being small increases over those of 1943. Nevertheless, the death rate was the second lowest ever recorded in Puerto Rico.
The chief causes of death continued to be diarrhea and enteritis, tuberculosis and pneumonia. These, together with diseases of the heart, nephritis, cancer and malaria, were responsible for 18,400 deaths or 62 per cent of the total. While the number of deaths resulting from diarrhea and enteritis was greater than in 1943, deaths from tuberculosis in 1944 declined 1.1 per cent.
Of the 42,463 cases of communicable diseases reported during 1944, 26.4 per cent were cases of malaria, 26.1 syphilis, 15.8 tuberculosis, 12.4 gonorrhea, 5.7 measles, 5.6 influenza and 3.6 whooping cough. All remaining causes of reportable sickness combined were responsible for only 4.4 per cent. The only diseases which reached epidemic proportions during the calendar year 1944 were measles and whooping cough.
There was a moderate increase in the amount of immunization work done by the Public Health Units. A total of 58,807 persons was vaccinated against smallpox in 1944 as compared with 51,536 in 1943; 16,929 children were immunized against diphtheria, nearly double the total for 1943 and 37,243 persons were inoculated against typhoid fever as compared with 32,472 in 1943.
In its antituberculosis program the Department is seriously hampered by lack of equipment, hospitals and trained personnel. Facilities for the examination and care of tuberculosis cases are limited to 20 clinics and five hospitals with a total bed capacity of 1,500. In 1941 a total of 118,016 persons were examined in the tuberculosis clinics; 132,634 persons were fluoroscoped; 18,042 chests were Xrayed; 10,378 cases were treated with artificial pneumothorax; 49,513 cases were administered pneumothorax insufflations; and 3,913 new cases were discovered. The Traveling X-Ray Unit fluoroscoped 11,380 persons of whom 221 were found positive. A total of 4,478 persons was examined in schools and in factories.
Considerable progress was made in anti-malarial work performed by the Bureau of Malaria Control with field workers provided by the War Emergency Program. During the year 19445 these field workers made a house to house survey of some 87,937 families with clinical symptoms of malaria. In the course of these visits 41,386 blood smears were taken, of which 5,165 (12.5 per cent) were positive. All of the positive cases were given a follow-up five day treatment.
Temporary measures for the control of the anopholine included construction and reconditioning of open drainage ditches, operation of tide gates, clearance of vegetation in outfalls, rivers, lagoons and irrigation reservoirs, and operation of mosquito traps. At Arroyo, Guayama, Salinas, Santa Isabel, Ponce and Río Piedras drainage operations of a permanent character were carried out during 19445. A major drainage project was undertaken at Santa Isabel which consisted of the installation of subsoil drainage systems, lining of earth ditches with pre-cast inverts and side slabs, construction of main outfalls and the manufacture of the pre-cast concrete products used in carrying out this work.