The 2015 school year has been filled with activity for the children in our education and nutrition programs in Nicaragua. Fabretto's after-school classes are typically called "enrichment classes"; these classes not only help students master important skills to help them excel in regular public school classes, but also enrich the educational experience by introducing new skills, experiences, and approaches to learning to give underserved children access to quality education.
We believe that the best way to learn about Fabretto is from our students, in their own words, so we sat down with Adriana* (name has been changed to protect privacy), a primary student from the town of Ocotal, to hear her perspective on Fabretto's program. This spunky girl loves learning and trying out new activities! She shared her five favorite things about Fabretto's Primary Enrichment Program:
1. A full day of learning: “If we weren’t in enrichment classes we would be at home doing nothing," said Adriana. While the average Nicaraguan public school day averages just 4 hours long, she and her classmates are at Fabretto's Education Center participating in meaningful activities in the afternoon.
2. Confidence: “We aren’t shy to talk to a group of people anymore, since in enrichment classes we present our work a lot,” said Adriana, who is empowered by the student-centered methodology used in Fabretto classes (which is very different from typical teacher-centered, lecture-style classes). Adriana has even participated in public performances outside of the classroom in her community; she explained, “Thanks to Fabretto, I’ve gotten to travel to [nearby town] Somoto for dance performances and municipal competitions and to [capital city] Managua for a literacy fair.”
3. Individualized support: “When I started enrichment classes I was horrible at math," Adriana confessed. "But," she continued, "With help from my after-school teacher, I've gotten so much better.” Like most parents in Nicaragua, Adriana's mom and dad must work demanding jobs in order to make ends meet, and they aren't always available to help her and her two siblings with homework. Fabretto after-school classes offer students like Adriana critical educational support to ensure that they succeed in school.
4. Love of reading: “I already have 5 pages of library borrowing cards filled out with books I’ve borrowed,” she beams. Families in Nicaragua often struggle to cover the costs of basic school supplies and rarely have the luxury of being able to own books, and public lending libraries are rare. At Fabretto's library, Adriana can check out and read as many books as she likes, and she's grown into an avid reader.
5. Creativity:“In [public school] class, we write and write and write, whereas in Fabretto enrichment classes we write, but we also have fun and let our imaginations go wild!” Fabretto after-school classes expose children to the arts and nurture creativity through arts & crafts, traditional folkloric dance lessons, and more. For Adriana, who dreams of becoming a writer when she grows up, Fabretto classes give her the chance to expand her horizons.
Adriana is just one of the many students whom your donations supports. Thank you for bringing quality education and opportunity to children in Nicaragua!
As part of the Primary Education Enrichment program, Fabretto reaches out to parents of students to involve them in their children's education. Most children in rural communities have little to no support from home. Many parents are illiterate or only had few years of education themselves, or they lack time and motivation to get involved.
One of the goals of Fabretto’s education and community program is to make parents an essential part of school activities and guide them to support children from home. Over 1,000 parents volunteer regularly to support Fabretto's education and nutrition programs, including cooking school lunches, maintaining school infrastructure, and attending workshops on health and nutrition.
Juana*, a mother of two, is one parent volunteer who lives in a rural community in northern Nicaragua. Her story is a testimony to the impact of parent involvement.
Like most homes in her rural community, Juana's house is a small adobe structure with no electricity. She and her children live about 10 miles from the nearest town, Cusmapa, in Northern Nicaragua. But Juana has made her home a special place: a home in which education comes first.
For the past several years, Juana has participated in Fabretto's workshops and training programs. With this knowledge, she has gone above and beyond to help her 6-year-old son, Melvin, succeed. Before he was even old enough to enroll in preschool, Juana used techniques from Fabretto Montessori Methodology training to teach Melvin the vowels and other basic concepts. She beamed as she stated that her son learned to read in just three months. She even created an “enrichment corner” in her home with simple, homemade educational resources for her children.
The road to education isn't easy in rural Nicaragua. This year, Melvin began to attend 1st grade, and to reach the nearest public school, he must walk over an hour on unpaved roads and across several creeks (which often flood in the rainy season). The good news is that Fabretto's programs ensure that Melvin will learn with trained teachers and receive basic school supplies as well as a daily school lunch, thanks to generous donations from supporters around the world.
Juana continues to support her son from home and to volunteer with Fabretto. She proudly shares her son's accomplishments, which include winning a local reading competition. While Melvin was thrilled to win the small prize (candy and new notebooks), the greatest prize was for his mother, who saw how her efforts are paying off.
Juana's story shows the true meaning of the Fabretto community - working together to help children reach a better future.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our beneficiaries.
Our education program's goal is to help children in Nicaragua learn, succeed, and reach a better future for themselves and their communities. Alleviating child hunger is an essential part of achieving this mission, and each day, we serve thousands of meals to children around the country.
Meet 9-year-old Elena and Karla, twin sisters who live in the trash dump community, La Cruz, in Nicaragua.* In their community, most families live in houses made of corrugated metal and plastic or of old wooden boards. Their homes have dirt floors and no running water or inside toilet. Families survive by collecting recyclables in the dump, earning just a dollar or two a day – leaving little to pay for a full meal each day, not to mention school supplies.
The twins have been benefiting from Fabretto’s nutritious school lunches since 2010, before there was even a school building in the dump. In those days, the lunches were served at desks outside. The La Cruz school was constructed by Fabretto and buildOn in 2011, with generous support from GlobalGiving users during our past fundraiser. Since then, many service groups and volunteers have helped Fabretto construct a kitchen, garden, a swing set, and a well for the school.
Once the school was built, Elena and Karla were able to begin their education. School lunch is essential to their success; the meal helps them focus on learning, rather than their worrying about their next meal. Too often, school lunch is the only meal they eat each day. That's why Fabretto designs meals that are fortified with the vitamins and minerals that growing children need and fulfill 60% of each child's recommended daily caloric intake.
Malnourishment causes students learn at a slower pace, struggle to pay attention, and have trouble remembering what they've learned. Fabretto's lunches enable students to do their best in school, and Anita, the mother of the twins, says she has seen a change: "They have improved a lot now that they're eating more, and they can read now."
A typical Fabretto school lunch includes fortified rice and soy, beans, tortillas, juice, and sometimes meat or dairy products, plus fruits and vegetables grown in the garden. Mothers from the community volunteer to cook lunch for the students. Through the school kitchen, Anita has become involved in her daughters’ education. She volunteers regularly and ensures that the twins attend school each day.
With Fabretto school lunches and primary education close to their home, Elena and Karla are moving toward a better future.
Thank you for your support in 2014!
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 2014, Fabretto's Primary Education Enrichment program has continued to bring quality education and nutrition to children in vulnerable communities. A key component of this program is improving teacher preparation. In Nicaragua, one quarter of public school teachers are not formally trained. In rural and historically underserved communities, where children are often struggling or behind, this percentage is even higher.
Fabretto responds to this need with comprehensive teacher training that develops effective educators who create a positive classroom environment. Most teachers in Nicaragua rely on traditional blackboard lessons where the teacher talks and students copy into their notebooks. In contrast, Fabretto training sessions helps teachers use updated teaching methods and facilitate activities that encourage student participation. Teacher training can have an enormous impact on student performance and attendance; we have seen that good teachers keep children in school and help them truly learn, which is especially crucial in the communities where we work.
This year, Fabretto has selected primary school teachers who show leadership potential to attend training sessions that cover teaching reading and mathematics, fostering creative and critical thinking skills, and promoting positive values (respect, responsibility, etc.). To multiply the impact, Fabretto has designed training sessions to prepare participants to replicate the training sessions at their schools for their fellow teachers as “teacher-trainers” (see infographic). Fabretto staff also follows up with regular classroom visits to support teachers as they implement the new methodology.
Teachers and students alike are benefiting from excellent teacher preparation. Sindy, a first grade teacher in Somoto, has worked with Fabretto's primary enrichment program for four years. The day we visited her classroom, her students were working independently on an interactive literacy lesson, creating words by matching slips of paper with syllables. Jean Luis, age six, told us proudly that he was able to write "hard words" now. For Sindy, Fabretto's training helped her design creative lessons to teach the basics of reading, the most fundamental academic skill. She explained, "The children are motivated... I've visited their homes to motivate their parents too." With improved teaching techniques, Sindy and her fellow Fabretto teachers are awakening children's interest in learning and building a strong foundation for their futures.
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