Primary Education for 11,000+ Nicaraguan Youth

by Fabretto Children's Foundation
Beautiful gardens in San Juan de Oriente
Beautiful gardens in San Juan de Oriente

The small town of San Juan de Oriente is known as the heart of Nicaraguan arts and crafts. Located just 40 kilometers outside of the capital of Managua, you will find this town neighboring Masatepe and Catarina. This beautiful area is also known as “Los Pueblos Blancos” (White Villages). Walking through San Juan de Oriente is like walking through the local market; where simple white adobe houses turned store front, exhibit an endless array of colorful paintings, pottery with a cultural relevance, and delicate wood workings. Alongside these houses, you cannot help but take in the gardens and flower beds that decorate main street.   

Fabretto sponsors the local library, which to children of this community is the heart of their imagination thanks to dedicated teachers and librarians. This library has become a sanctuary for children where they can let their imagination soar. For these chldren, reading has become their favorite game. 

This library is on a small corner lot, which reduced space and vast limitation is no comparison to the children’s enthusiasm. This library not only lends books, but is also known for its theatrical shows, storytelling, and arts and crafts courses that emphasize on teamwork, respect and a passion for books and nature.

Last week, we had the opportunity to visit this library during a school activity celebrating the end of the school year. Although school is no longer in session, we had the opportunity to talk to a few of the children who visit the library on a regular basis, and learn firsthand how this library has played a positive role in their lives.

Francisco, 14 years old.

Francisco, the eldest of the group, has been visiting the library almost every day for the past 5 years. He explains how at school they told him about this place that lends books. “I live near by and not only do I like to come and read, I also like the values and lessons I have been taught. I also have improved my vocabulary.” Visiting with Francisco is his younger sister Maria Teresa. “My sister did not know how to read at first. She would make up and interpret books based on the images.” She is now  8 years old and a bright student. She is well known for her ability to read in public and has even won second place in a reading contest.

Tatiana, 7 years old

During the activity, the teacher called on Tatiana who was being recognized for being the most organized of the group. “Tatiana always leaves the library clean, all books in place, and comes everyday,” explained the teacher. Tatiana tells us that she too likes to visit the library to play games and participate in arts and crafts.

Children that begin reading and interacting with books at a young age perform better at school.  Reading helps children develop well in all aspects of their lives; it is a powerful tool that exercises their intellect and critical thinking skills. Books are a source of knowledge and answers for many of these kids whose parents have minimal education. Fabretto strongly believes that good reading habits are a foundation that can catapult any child to success. It is for this reason that in the upcoming year, Fabretto's goal is to sponsor the construction of a new library in San Juan de Oriente.

Fabretto’s  Primary Enrichment Program is a clear example of the positive effects reading has on young learners.  Because of the special emphasis Fabretto has given to reading and programs associated with reading such as “Reading is fun” (Leer es divertido), Fabretto has been recognized at the national level. A  Fabretto sponsored school, located in the rural community of San Pedro de Buena Vista, 69 kms Southeast of Nueva Guinea on the Caribbean Coast (RACCS), was awarded special recognition for their attention to literature.

San Juan de Oriente main street
San Juan de Oriente main street
Reading activity with children at the Library
Reading activity with children at the Library
Group reading activity
Group reading activity
Current library
Current library
Francisco, accepting reading award
Francisco, accepting reading award
Maria Teresa accepting reading award
Maria Teresa accepting reading award
Tatiana is the most organized of the group
Tatiana is the most organized of the group

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Students from Mobile Primary School
Students from Mobile Primary School

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. 

Mobile Community School
Mobile Community School
Pascual in the classroom
Pascual in the classroom
Pascual, his students, Kevin, and Fabretto Staff
Pascual, his students, Kevin, and Fabretto Staff

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Donkey Library
Donkey Library

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.

Children at the Donkey Library
Children at the Donkey Library
Child at the Donkey Library
Child at the Donkey Library

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Adriana*, primary student in Fabretto
Adriana*, primary student in Fabretto's program

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!

Adriana shares a story that she wrote in class
Adriana shares a story that she wrote in class
Students receive the support they need to succeed
Students receive the support they need to succeed
Classes help children master reading & writing
Classes help children master reading & writing

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Fabretto provides quality education resources
Fabretto provides quality education resources

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.

A mother volunteers to cook school lunches
A mother volunteers to cook school lunches
Fabretto student Melvin reads a story in class
Fabretto student Melvin reads a story in class
Fabretto helps rural communities access education
Fabretto helps rural communities access education

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Organization Information

Fabretto Children's Foundation

Location: Alexandria, Virginia - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.fabretto.org
Project Leader:
Kathy Baczko
Arlington, VA United States
$4,270 raised of $20,000 goal
 
51 donations
$15,730 to go
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