Page images
PDF
EPUB

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.

to $168,788.38, on behalf of 5,140 workers, were made, of which $28,571.50 were collected.

During the year the Legal Division handled a total of 83 appeals to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals from judgments of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico invalidating the Board's Mandatory Decree No. 2 providing for retroactive wage payments in the sugar industry.

PLANNING BOARD

The activities of the Planning Board continued to increase during the fiscal year 1944-45 due to the further development of the planning duties authorized by law, and expansion of the social, economic and physical program of the Island.

The Board received 393 proposals from Insular agencies and municipalities for public improvements. Of these, 305 projects were approved, 29 were disapproved, 26 were withdrawn by the proponents and 33 were pending on June 30, 1945.

The projects approved represent a total investment of $27,999,044.15 in capital improvements. The largest single item was for housing, with $9,012,000.00 alloted to the Puerto Rico Housing Authority for 15 projects and $1,140,800.00 to the San Juan Housing Authority for five projects. A total of 171 projects of the War Emergency Program was approved, calling for expenditures of $7,107,251.53. To the Water Resources Authority was assigned $6,733,976 for the development of the power resources of the Island.

The Second Six-Year Financial Program of the Board was presented to the Insular Legislature in February 1945. The program calle for a total outlay of $196,118,164 from the General Fund, and an additional expenditure of $31,414,500 from Insular Trust and Federal Funds. Of the amount to be derived from the General Fund, approximately 26 per cent was assigned to public enterprises designated to stimulate the Island's economy, such as the Puerto Rico Development Company, the Agricultural Company, the Land Authority and the Water Resources Authority. About 16 per cent was set aside for capital improvements including schools, health and public welfare facilities, roads and housing. Current expenditures accounted for approximately 56 per cent.

The Urban Development Division continued the work of previous years in connection with zoning regulations, an urban land-use survey, a master plan of airports, housing standards and policies, the development of design standards for Land Authority settlement projects and industrial planning for the Metropolitan Area. In September 1944, new subdivision regulations relating to zoning were put in effect. These regulations are intended to prevent the haphazard growth of towns and cities on the Island. Field work was completed for the land-use maps in 14 municipalities, bringing the total to 21.

Accomplishments of the Mapping Division were meager due to the lack of technical personnel, engineering equipment and transportation facilities for field work. However, most of the basic work necessary to fix the definite lines of major thoroughfares within the Metropolitan Area was completed during the year. Work on the Map of Territorial Boundaries was finished in 14 municipalities. Studies of transportation facilities in rural zones, which were begun in 1942-43 in cooperation with the Department of Interior, were concluded, and a report has been prepared for discussion at public hearings. Results of this research showed that while 70 per cent of the Island population is rural, only 17 per cent of the farms are located on roads. The Report proposes an investment of $147,568,000 in road improvement and construction during the next 50 years.

The Division of Insular Industries and Services continued studies relating to the expansion of health and educational facilities on the Island. A preliminary distribution of classrooms was prepared by years and by municipalities for the purpose of determining the funds needed for school construction in the Six-Year Financial Program. Sites proposed by the Department of Education for the construction of school buildings were inspected by the Division before being submitted to the Board for approval. The Division also began the study of sites submitted by the WEP for the construction of 128 public health units.

POLICE An 11 per cent increase in crime was recorded for the fiscal year. Crimes against the person increased 21.5 per cent while property crimes decreased 1.8 per cent from last year.

The principal increases were as follows: traffic violations, 34 per cent; aggravated assaults, 32 per cent; rape, 31 per cent; negligent manslaughter, 23 per cent. Robberies declined 17 per cent.

Ninety six per cent of all known offenses were cleared, a five per cent increase over last year.

Of the 76,045 persons arrested in 1944-45, 87 per cent were from urban zones. As in preceding years, the age group most frequently represented among persons arrested was that of 20 to 24.

An effort was made to improve the training of public health personnel at the School of Tropical Medicine, at the University of Puerto Rico and in the United States. In all, 116 employees or future employees benefited by this special training program during the year. A plan for increasing the number of public health units and for reorganizing the supervisory system was approved by the Legislature.

Hospital services increased despite the shortage of doctors and nurses. The five district hospitals under the supervision of the Division of Insular Medical Services cared for more than 19,000 patients in 1944 45 and 1,947 cases were hospitalized in the Insular Hospital of Psychiatry.

Direct relief is administered by the Division of Public Welfare from funds provided by the War Emergency Program. By June 30, 1945, 26,466 cases were receiving monthly public assistance (usually $7.50) and 47,832 applications for aid were pending. In addition to the $2,200,233.45 expended on these regular monthly grants, $14,485.19 were spent on emergency relief out of Insular funds and $6,937.26 of Federal funds were applied to Civilian War Assistance and assistance to enemy aliens.

Child Welfare services were considerably extended during 194415, with a total of 9,155 cases handled as compared with 6,658 in 1943 44 and 2,607 in 1942–43. The Bureau of Child Welfare helped 7,955 of these children to remain in their own homes or in the homes of relatives and placed the majority of the others in foster or boarding homes.

Public water supplies and sewerage systems are supervised and controlled by the Bureau of Sanitary Engineering, and 1,343 inspections were made during the fiscal year. Ten new sewerage systems were approved and are now under construction.

The newly-organized (October, 1944) Tyhpus and Plague Control Section entered upon a program of rat extermination. A total of 185 buildings were inspected of which 119 have already been completely rat-proofed.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR The war forced this Department to limit its activities chiefly to maintenance of existing work and planning for post-war projects. In addition, work performed by the Wár Emergency Program, involving expenditures of more than $2,000,000, was sponsored by the Department, which contributed about 10 per cent of the total cost.

Road construction in 194445 was limited because of restrictions

« PreviousContinue »