Primary students at the Cusmapa school.
Primary education is an essential building block in a child’s life. The 2012 school year in Nicaragua kicked off the end of February, and Fabretto´s Early and Primary Education Programs have reached another benchmark. More than 8,800 preschool and primary students enrolled in Fabretto’s seven Centers and more than 50 supported schools. This represents 100% of the projected enrollment rate for 2012 school year - a complete success!
In Nicaragua, only 30% of all students manage to complete their primary education due to complex social and economic barriers. In response to this problem, Fabretto´s Primary Education Program focuses on ensuring that all of the children that enroll, stay in school and receive the best quality education possible. Having projected enrollment match actual enrollment is a true achievement!
Another success point is that Fabretto’s enrollment increased in 2012, in the hopes of serving more children in both rural and urban communities, where students do not have access to quality nutrition and education services. The 2012 enrollment reflects an increase of more than 15% from 2011. This expansion has been possible through the generous support of donors who continue to provide vital resources that transform lives!
In 2012, one of the main focuses of the Primary Education Program is on strengthening reading comprehension activities. This entails considerable training for all preschool and primary teachers, as well as working to improve the reading clubs that are already organized at each center and school. In 2011, Fabretto had significant impact in this area and hopes to continue on a steady course of improvement. In 2011, when the reading clubs and other reading comprehension activities were introduced, only 30% of children entering into first grade could read words and simple sentences. At the start of the 2012 school year, after one year of implementing the new reading strategies, 48% of the children entering into first grade could read words and sentences, a substantial improvement!
Reading tests applied to children in the first through sixth grades had similar results. Fabretto uses the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) tool, which was developed by USAID and is used all over the world. At the beginning of 2011, only 30% of all students had adequate reading comprehension skills. But, with a year of intensive teacher training, and classroom activities to promote reading comprehension skills, at the beginning of 2012, 60% of the students tested at adequate reading levels. This result is of particular importance because in 2011, a national study was performed in Nicaragua, by the organization CIASES, one of the most prestigious organizations working in education in Nicaragua. Using the same EGRA methodology, CIASES determined that only 30% of the primary students in Nicaragua had developed the appropriate reading skills for their grade level. Undoubtedly, Fabretto’s comprehensive reading strategies are generating positive impact, and will help students to improve their academic performance in all subject areas.
In addition to educational activities, students in the Primary Education Program also receive a nutritious lunch every day. Because malnutrition rates are alarmingly high in the rural communities in northern Nicaragua, Fabretto’s Food Security and Nutrition Program continues to be of vital importance. According to the UN’s World Food Program, approximately 20% of the children in Nicaragua suffer from malnutrition. However, Fabretto’s health staff has determined that in many communities, malnutrition rates are as high as 40%. Fabretto works to improve activities in this program in coordination with parents, teachers, and students andhas been tracking nutritional data for the past several years, taking the students’ height and weight data every six months. In 2011, the statistics processed by Fabretto’s monitoring team indicated that malnutrition levels decreased by 4% throughout the year. Also, in cases of severe malnutrition, the most extreme cases, malnutrition decreased by 10%. Although food security and malnutrition are complex social and economic issues, Fabretto is clearly making dramatic improvements in both rural and urban communities.
In addition to serving lunch at all schools every day, Fabretto also implements school gardens at more than forty primary schools and has provided ongoing training on nutrition to families in more than sixty rural communities. All of these actions have contributed to greatly improved nutritional conditions for children and their families. Fabretto´s activities continue to increase and provide quality primary education and nutrition to thousands of children in impoverished communities. These efforts are only made possible because of the generosity of donors who are willing to give of themselves so that children in Nicaragua can have better education, better nutrition, and more opportunities.
Primary students at Las Sabanas school.