The 2014 school year began in February, including new programs in two communities outside of the town Somoto, Soní and Cacaulí. This year, SAT continues to prepare students for economic success. SAT tutors engage students in business activities to develop entreprenuerial spirit, in addition to providing excellent preparation for university studies and formal employment. In rural Nicaragua, lack of economic opportunity forces young people to migrate to urban centers to seek low wage employment. With quality education that teaches skills relevant to the rural environment, SAT helps talented youth succeed at home and develop their own communities. The two SAT student cooperatives also allow students to apply for loans and start small businesses. SAT promotes gender equity in all activities, and in 2013, 60% of the students involved in business initiatives were female.
Olvin, from the tiny rural community El Castillito, is one exemplary student who has benefitted from SAT's focus on relevant skills, particularly in agriculture. The SAT program has given Olvin a chance he never had before: access to education beyond 6th grade. Olvin had worked for seven years after finishing sixth grade, but when his mother attended a community meeting and found out about SAT, he enrolled immediately. This year, he will completed the program and receive his high school diploma in December.
In 2013, Fabretto selected Olvin for a scholarship to study a technical course in Administration of Coffee Farms in Jinotega, Nicaragua. Although the scholarship was originally intended for a Fabretto staff member, the staff nominated Olvin for his great potential. He completed the course and since then has provided technical advice as a consultant to the 5 de Junio Coffee Cooperative, originally created with Fabretto's support. Olvin's knowledge has helped the cooperative with crop diversification and the development of a new initiative to grow and export organic chia.
Olvin plans to continue working in agriculture, and SAT has opened up many opportunities to continue learning and progressing. This year, he will apply for a scholarship to study agricultural engineering at a university in the closest city. He currently is involved with a business initiative to grow strawberries and make strawberry jam with his fellow SAT students. Further in the future, he hopes to manage his own coffee farm in El Castillito using the skills he learned in the course in Jinotega and join the 5 de Junio Cooperative. In our interview, Olvin reflected, "All of us in SAT are young, but we have a vision: moving forward." With the SAT program, Olvin and his fellow classmates are driving economic and social development in their rural communities.
This December, Fabretto proudly celebrated the high school graduation of 52 SAT students. The SAT program acheived a 97% retention rate this year, a great achievement, especially compared with an estimated 75% retention rate in all Nicaraguan secondary schools. The 48 SAT tutors received continuous training throughout the year to improve teaching skills, knowledge of curriculum, and understanding of the program’s unique methodology.
This year, Fabretto's SAT program received international recognition as one of fourteen finalists for the WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) Awards, sponsored by the Qatar Foundation to honor the most innovative education projects around the world. Helena Edwards, Fabretto Director of Programs, shared the SAT model on the global stage at the WISE Summit this fall (watch her presentation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J805iHj04b0).
The SAT small business initiatives and the two student cooperatives are thriving. In 2013, SAT student business activities included baking traditional biscuits, growing fruits (strawberries, pitaya, pineapple), beekeeping, producing cajetas (Nicaraguan candies), buying and selling used clothing, and producing coffee. With the income generated by these businesses, students can contribute to the family income while continuing their studies.
One dedicated tutor, Danys , supported a group of students in executing a business plan, obtaining a loan, and purchasing an electric mill for the rural community El Carrizo near San José de Cusmapa in April 2013. The mill, owned and operated by two SAT students and their families, contributes directly to community development and enables other students to pursue business ventures of their own, including rosquillas biscuits and cajetas (traditional Nicaraguan candies). This summer, his fourth and fifth year students began a new initiative to produce pinol, a popular corn-based drink. Watch this short film to learn more about these inspiring students and their tutor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsKwPVc4Nk.
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