The month of July has arrived and Nicaragua´s primary school students are halfway through the 2013 school year. The last time Fabretto spoke to you we reviewed the 2012 highlights and accomplishments and gave you a little sneak peak of what to expect for the first half of the 2013 school year. Today we will go into some of the details of this 2013 school year.
One of the surprises and great news so far for this year is that Fabretto managed to not only meet its projected number of enrolled students, but also far exceeded it by over 300 students. Initial enrollment figures have been collected by education and Fabretto technical staff across all Fabretto-supported schools and the official enrollment for primary students is 9,328 for this school year. That adds up to over 500 students higher than in 2012, equivalent to an increase of just over 6%.
In an effort to help overcome the barriers to mathematical learning in basic arithmetic and geometry, Fabretto has provided teachers, students and indeed, entire classrooms with Math Baskets or “Canastas Matematicas”, distributing about 50 of these in several dozen schools. These math baskets are filled with up to 30 different items that allows teachers to diversify teaching techniques and facilitate learning for children while making the process fun. Legos, abacuses (or abaci), dice, bingos, dominos, cards, just to mention a few, are among the items found in these baskets. Manuals and guides for teachers and students alike are also part of the basket. Moreover, teachers who received these baskets also participated in related workshops in order to optimize and efficiently use the baskets and their items accordingly, and to increase the impact of this dynamic exercise.
As part of the ongoing efforts to increase reading proficiency in Nicaragua, Fabretto highly trained technical staff, and teachers applied a diagnostic test to students in first, second and third grade, across all Fabretto-supported schools, to gauge the level of reading and comprehension proficiency among its beneficiary population. In addition, 718 Nacho books with differing themes like Spanish, math, civics, etc., have been distributed to primary school students this year, alongside teaching and learning materials for teachers to be used in the Montessori methodology.
During the month of May, a Reading Fair was held in Cusmapa, Sabanas, Somoto, Ocotal and Esteli. During this event, boys and girls, teachers and even parents participated in the reading activities. The participating boys and girls were the most excited of all. They needed very little encouragement from their caretakers and some even consider the fair as the highlight of the school year thus far.
In the last 3 months, Fabretto´s activities in primary education have also focused on more organizational support as well as training workshops for teachers and faculty members as a way to strengthen the primary education program being offered in Fabretto-supported schools. To that end, the following training workshops have been implemented by Fabretto educational staff:
- Key educational personnel in several centers received training in Mathematics, Language & Literature and Student Government Organization.
- Training was held for teachers on ABC books for a pilot reading project in several centers in the north.
- Educational personnel in Somoto, Esteli, Matagalpa, and Managua received training in Montessori methodologies and teaching dynamics.
Half the school year has passed but Fabretto still has a lot of work to do in the coming months. Working for and alongside these marvelous kids, dedicated teachers, and hopeful parents not only makes our work easier, but makes it all the more worthwhile. Fabretto believes in the power of education as a positive and enduring driving force of social and economic change. Help us make a difference and continue to support the children of Nicaragua and forever touch the lives of thousands of children.
Nicaragua´s school year just recently took off for the 2013 school year on February 11th. For this reporting period Fabretto is happy to share the 2012 school years accomplishments and end results as well as share some of the upcoming highlight for the first quarter of the new 2013 school year.
The 2012 school year ended with greatest numbers of student beneficiaries served in its history. 8,789 primary school students participated in Fabretto´s Primary Education Enrichment Program. An almost 22% increase in the previously projected target thanks to the insertion of new schools within the scope and reach of Fabretto. This number of student equals to a 94% retention rate overall, up from 91% from previous year. This increase in the number of children staying in school reflects a greater importance placed by parents on the educating their young as a result of awareness campaigns, workshops and the quality of Fabretto´s programs in education and nutrition. In addition, an average of 80% attendance rate across the board was reached.Fabretto’s program for early and primary education program is focused on improving the quality of education for students, up through the sixth grade, the last year of primary school in Nicaragua. Program activities include teacher training, provision of teaching and learning materials, infrastructure improvements, and the implementation of after school, enrichment activities, such as: tutoring, computer classes, sports, art, and school gardens. Fabretto offers these programs in seven education centers, which are owned and operated by the organization, as well as in more than 90 public, primary schools. Parental involvement is critical in this program, which also includes the organization of community education networks, and workshops for parents on issues related to the preventative health, education and well-being of their children.
As an additional impact evaluation of Fabretto’s Primary Educational Enrichment Program, students from first through third grades were given Early Grace Reading Assessment or EGRA tests in August 2011 then again in July and November of 2012. The EGRA tests are used by USAID to measure children’s fluency and reading comprehension. Since the ability to read and understand is an important component to the learning process, the EGRA results are an excellent indicator to assess the learning process experienced by children in their early years.
The test results show considerable improvement from the initial assessment in 2011 to the test results from 2012. Test results are categorized into three different levels: reading “well”, “adequate”, and “at risk”. Fabretto’s test results show improvement with children reading well initially assessed at 27% of students increasing to 52%; students at the adequate level went down from 45% to 25%, and the at risk percentage went down from 28% to 24%.
These EGRA test results are the product of Fabretto´s strong emphasis in 2011-2012 on improving reading and comprehension. Some of the initiatives and activities that resulted in an improved pedagogical and learning environment attributable to Fabretto´s reading and comprehension endeavors:
What to expect in the months to come in the 2013 school year?
Fabretto has projected several promising pieces of data. For example, Fabretto estimates that this year, with the help of all our generous donors, the number of enrolled students will grow to 8,915. In other words, Fabretto will grow its primary education services by roughly 200 students. In addition, Fabretto expects to retain 88% of the students, however recent years has shown that Fabretto meets and exceeds this number by several percentage points.
In addition, certain activities are being planned and already underway. Strengthening primary education in 2013, will begin with recreational and mathematical Olympics to further enrich primary students in arithmetic problem solving. Training and workshops will be held to refresh and familiarize beneficiaries and teachers as well. In March Fabretto will start applying tests in language classes and math to track the performance of students during term 2013. Finally teachers will be receiving training for about 140 hours on active strategies participatory curriculum development MINED, will be taught by UNAN, the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua a specialized segment for strengthening teacher nationwide.