Panama on Monday relaunched its national literacy program, a project in which it has the cooperation of the Cuban government.

The literacy program was initiated in 2007 and will be participated in by officials of several government institutions, as well as a group of Cuban technicians who are already in Panama, Social Development Minister Alcibiades Vasquez told reporters.

"We support the theory that the fight against poverty, social inclusion, as well as means-tested assistance and the participation of all the sectors that are involved, will influence things so that we can reduce the number of illiterate people in the country," Vasquez said.

The national literacy director, Rufino Huertas, said that the program is in its first phase, during which the regional directors of the ministry and regional literacy coordinators are brought together to analyze the situation of each province and then take the appropriate action.

Huertas said that currently there are more than 192,000 illiterate people in Panama, mainly in the indigenous regions of the provinces of Veraguas and Chiriqui, a figure that represents approximately 5.5 percent of the national population.

"We aspire to reduce to 3 percent the number of illiterate people at the end of this five-year period, which is a very ambitious goal, but we can achieve it if we have the support of all the sectors that are involved," he added.

The literacy project is similar to the "Yes, I can" program pushed by the Cuban government in its country. EFE