In September, the students of the Mbaracayu Educational Center made a guided visit to the Cerrito Agricultural School. The main goal of this guided visit was for the students to exchange know-how and expertise, and allow them to experience living day-to-day in the school. Through this, they expanded their technical and practical knowledge in fields such as orchards, farming, milk production plants, hotels and others.
The students of the Mbaracayu Educational Center valued greatly the learning and the hospitality received during their stay in Cerrito, allowing them to foster new bonds and garner new skills in different fields.
Furthermore, in September, we received a new batch of 6 computers for the students of the Mbaracayu Educational Center in lieu of the project “Computers for All”. This new batch adds to the 20 computers already in place and received in July.
These computers will become indispensable in adding to the skillsets of the young students, who are eager to learn about digital commercialization and all the opportunities technology can offer to advance their businesses.
In order to counteract the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mbaracayú Educational Center continues to innovate in various fields. Since 2021, we have been implementing the “Mandala Gardens” with the help of the Guayakí team, which improves the use of space and resources in the vegetable plantation.
This planting method optimizes the use of water, improves the access to sunlight, and entails a variety of nutritional benefits for the plants. The main characteristic of this method is the circular shape with functional corridors to connect the furrows with each other. Additionally, the method allows for a diversity of species to be cultivated in a small place, since it has integrated crops that do not leave the soil bare, resulting in abundant harvests.
In addition to learning about sustainable agricultural practices, students get exposed to other cultures and appreciate the value of their customs. In this case, the Indian culture uses the word “Mandala” when referring to a sacred circle of energy used for meditation.
As the Mbaracayú Educational Center promotes biodiversity conservation, the Mandala Gardens encourage the coexistence of humans with nature in an ecological community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected educational systems worldwide, forcing schools to shift their conventional methods of in-person teaching to digital pedagogy. Additionally, they had to reinvent themselves to make learning interesting and to adopt the necessary safety measures for students to return to in-person classes. All of these changes have required a bigger commitment from teachers, students, and other school staff.
The Mbaracayú Educational Center has been resilient to changes and adversities and it has continued with its mission of providing quality education to poor rural girls throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Without the students’ determination, however, this would not have been possible. Today, we want to tell the story of the 2021 class students.
The girls from the 2021 class had just started high school when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. It was a very difficult and uncertain period of time for students as well as for the teaching staff. The school made a big effort to keep in touch with the students so they would not fall behind in school. In some cases that the student could not be contacted, the teachers would print the class material and take it to their villages.
The following year, the school adopted a hybrid learning format. This allowed students to go back to school for in-person classes, even if that was only for a portion of the school year.
We want to recognize the amazing effort and perseverance of these girls. Last year, all 49 of them graduated from Mbaracayú Educational Center with an Environmental Science degree.
In September, the students of The Centro Educativo Mbaracayu (located in the center of the Mbaracayú National Forest Reserve of Paraguay), participated in the “Expressions of Empowerment” competition, an initiative from the International Youth Think Tank (IYTT), which purpose was to showcase unique innovative venture to transform academically founded arguments into artistic expressions.
The International Youth Think Tank (IYTT) is a Gothenburg-based initiative that mobilizes young people towards the goal of promoting a democratic movement based on the values of the open society.
These were the students who took part of this competition, Roció Casagrante, Diana Villalba, Cessia Aramí López, Carolina Mbyvangi, Ester Tykuarangi, Jazmín Torres and Carina Bejaro. Their project is a beautiful artwork, which was made with Aché Arroyo Bandera and Avá Guaraní community wood-carving techniques. This artistic expression has been one of eleven selected pieces out of a total of twenty-six sent from around the world.
The Mbaracayu School continues to make its best efforts to continue providing education to female students from nearby communities.
The situation of the country has not changed much, the risk of spreading the virus and deaths remain high. Vaccinations have started but are not yet available for young people. In general, educational institutions have adapted, but distance classes are still difficult. The economy has improved a bit but a long recovery is expected.
We started the year with a mixed modality of face-to-face and virtual classes, the Mbaracayu school has been forced to suspend this methodology due to COVID infections among female students. Classes are held only remotely, taking care of the well-being of their students. Using different media and digital platforms, teachers continue their lesson plan. Carrying out follow-ups by Whatsapp and telephone consultations.
The School is expected to receive students again at the boarding school starting in August.
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