The Rural Secondary Education project in Nicaragua continues to provide youth in over 30 rural communities with access to quality secondary education. Most are the first in their families to continue their education beyond the sixth grade. This school year, we've seen our students improve academically and apply their skills to the rural environment. Many of these students have involved their families in agricultural projects and small businesses that benefit the whole community.
In the program, one of the highlights of the second year of study is the "Chicken Project." Students and teachers raised a group of chickens and learn about the agricultural cycle hands-on. As they build the coop, care for the eggs, and feed the chickens as they grow, the students apply the lessons they've learned in mathematics and science classes - calculating percentages, comparing weights, keeping track of costs, and more.
At the end of the Chicken Project, the students understand not only their science and math lessons, but also have developed skills on the basics of raising chickens - an excellent source of eggs and protein in rural Nicaragua. For example, one young student, pictured with her grandmother, has taken the lesson and replicated it at her home. Using the skills she developed through the project, she has proudly shown her family the best way to care for the chickens and their investment has paid off. Now, her family supplements their typical meals of rice and beans with protein-rich foods, improving the family diet.
This is the essence of Fabretto's program - providing access to education that is truly meaningful and relevant for students in rural Nicaraguan communities. We're proud to see that their effort is truly paying off, and more graduates are becoming influential leaders who drive rural development forward in their communities.
Our rural education program has been steadily expanding and next year Fabretto hopes to reach more communities. We hope you will stay informed and involved by following our blog on our website, www.fabretto.org. Thank you for your support!
In Nicaragua, keeping children in school and on track is an enormous challenge. Children often drop out during the school year to work to support their families or fail to pass the grade level. Government data estimates that 47% of students in rural areas have repeated at least one grade level, and repetition is strongly correlated with poverty.
Our primary enrichment programs work to change that. Last year, almost all of our students stayed in school (94%) and passed to the next grade level (93%) - an enormous accomplishment in Nicaragua, and especially in vulnerable communities. From 2011-2013, with Fabretto programs, the percentage of children reading At or Above Grade Level more than doubled. By focusing on ensuring early grade literacy, we help children master the basics to reduce drop outs and grade repetition.
Children also need to be engaged and interested in school to develop a love of learning. Fabretto's after school enrichment programs introduce children to new activities that they do not experience in regular public school classes. Volunteers are a key part of this program, sharing their expertise in music, sports, technology, arts & crafts, and more.
This quarter, a volunteer named Camilo led a group of primary students in an introductory photography workshop in rural San Jose de Cusmapa. With support from Fabretto enrichment teachers Hilda and Milenia, Camilo taught his students about the basics of photography. Camilo reflected, "'In communities as isolated and poor as Cusmapa, a workshop like this is something totally unique and provides them with a great opportunity to explore their creative side, have access to technology, and get to be excited about learning from the photos they have taken so that they improve in every class.''
The kids had a blast! One student explained, "We were really excited about this workshop and to take advantage of the opportunity to learn how to take good pictures." With Camilo, the students learned how to use a digital camera, went into the field, and took photos of their environment, families, and friends - an incredible opportunity. You can follow the video series, "Desde Mi Lente," or Picture My World in English, on the Fabretto blog to learn more about this initiative and its results.
With the support of dedicated volunteers like Camilo, Fabretto's enrichment program will continue to motivate students to stay in school and discover the possibilities of education.
In early 2014, Fabretto opened two new SAT centers in the communities of Sonis and Cacauli, outside of the town Somoto. Fabretto also welcomed 152 new students to the SAT program. In 2013, SAT students created seventeen small business initiatives, and students have added ten new businesses in 2014. A total of 78 youth and 7 parents are actively generating income through these productive initiatives, which include growing coffee and chia, selling used clothing, making fruit smoothies, beekeeping, and raising chickens.
One of the youth driving this progress is Gilberto, the newly elected president of the San Isidro de Bolas school cooperative. “When I came to Fabretto, I was only interested in playing soccer”, Gilberto admitted with a smile. He had heard about the San Isidro SAT program through his cousin, who also mentioned that soccer was popular in the schoolyard. “However, with the SAT program, I soon began to understand that life is not just a game,” he explained.
Today, Gilberto is in his final year of the SAT program. During his term as the cooperative's president, Gilberto's main ambition has been to motivate the cooperative’s members to start their own projects. Gilberto worked at an artisan workshop in the past, and he dreams of starting a hammock business. While preparing his business plan, Gilberto has inspired his peers to take action as well, and the cooperative is receiving more loan applications than ever.
Gilberto aspires to use income from his business to fund his university studies after graduating from SAT. He also wants to use his new position to improve the lives of others. “Being president helps me to become an entrepreneur myself. But apart from my personal needs, I can also help other people; help them to work hard and work hand in hand with them. I also want to support my family and serve my community by providing work for those who need it.”