Historically, students from rural and poor communities in Nicaragua have the lowest national performance in reading and writing. However, a small school in the Southern Caribbean Coast Region (RACCS) has become the big exception. Pascual Solano works at the Maria Teresa Sanchez School, located in the San Pedro de Buena Vista community, 43 miles (70km) southeast from Nueva Guinea in RACCS. Pascual is a 31-year-old teacher who led his students to win second place at Nicaragua’s National Reading Competition.
The students come from rural schools and families with few economic resources. They have to travel long distances to go to school with poor infrastructure. Many of the children did not attend early childhood education, as the access to preschool in RACCS is non-existent.
For first grade students, the school’s social disadvantage has not been a debilitating obstacle to learn. This achievement is due in largely to teachers, including Pascual who are committed and passionate about their work. Pascual has attended Fabretto training workshops, where he has learned about the importance of engaging parents in their children's education. He also promotes student attendance and punctuality. Thanks to funding from USAID, Fabretto, along with the Vicariate of Bluefields and the Ministry of Education, have hosted teacher training workshops throughout the region.
Pascual interact and maintains good communication with his students, celebrating every small achievement. His personalized interaction in classroom transcends to the family, who appreciate and value Pascual’s hard work.
Pascual’s classroom won second place in the subsidized classroom category at the National Reading Competition, where 302 primary schools participated nation-wide in three categories: regular, multi-grade level, and subsidized for first, second, or third place. In order to participate in the competition, Pascual had to demonstrate student retention rate increase, over 90% attendance rate, and having lead at least 22 hours of class per week. Pascual’s students excelled in the international Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), testing reading comprehension and fluency.
“Motivation plays a very important role. That's why I encourage the willingness to learn, the value of reading, and the importance of education. I motivate students individually, as well as their parents.” comments Pascual.
Nicaragua needs more teachers like Pascual. Fabretto teacher training helps teachers to become the best they can be and improves education quality for thousands of children in underserved communities in Nicaragua. Thank you for supporting education and teacher training in Nicaragua.
One of Fabretto’s strategies for bringing books to rural communities is mobile libraries, carried on donkey’s backs. This spring, the donkey-powered libraries (“biblioburros” in Spanish) have reached the South Caribbean Coast (RACCS), Fabretto’s newest region of influence. Read more about the first mobile libraries in the Northern mountains of Nicaragua.
In Nicaragua, books are a luxury. At school, children only have access to books with the standard curriculum; in many rural schools, two or three children must share one textbook. Families can’t afford to purchase books for their children, and there are just a handful of public lending libraries in the entire country. This means that many children have no access to books, particularly in rural communities.
The schools that Fabretto supports in the RACCS region are some of the most isolated in the country. These villages are located hours away from the nearest towns and are inaccessible by vehicle. However, there is one form of transportation that can reach the schools – donkeys.
With donated books and trusty donkeys to carry them, Fabretto is providing a path for educational resources to reach even the most remote communities.
Last month, Fabretto introduced the donkey-powered libraries to the RACCS region through a series of educational fairs. 200 students, parents, and teachers from ten different schools participated in the events, during which the biblioburro traveled to the schools and gave children access to the mobile library.
The students were given the opportunity to browse through the books, read the stories out loud with their friends, and participate in activities organized by Fabretto’s team. It was a joyful, exciting time for the children, most of whom had never seen a library before. Through initiatives like the biblioburro, Fabretto strives to not only improve students’ reading skills, but also awaken their interest in reading and learning.
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!
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our beneficiaries.
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