Rural Schools in Nicaragua
I wanted to share a few brief observations after visiting several rural schools in Nicaragua. My friend Tisha received grant money to learn about public schools and how to open a high school in rural Nicaragua. I am helping her collect information through interviews and casual conversations. I am happy to report that she is encouraged by what we have learned and will be pursuing the opening of a Saturday school in the 8,000 person town of Charcaseca, outside León.
Why a Saturday school? It’s easy to understand why after living here for only a few weeks. Most rural families are very poor earning less than $500 per year, round-trip transportation in this rural setting costs 70 cents round-trip (about $100 per person for a school year), and families need their kids to make money starting at a young age (often at the end of primary school, age 10 or 11). And, the rural settings means rough roads and long commutes. A Saturday school allows a person to earn a high school degree, qualify to take a graduate test, and, with suceessful completion, be admitted into a public University while holding a job and reducing their transportation costs by 80%.
Non-governmental approaches have been used to recruit teachers to teach in rural areas to meet the demand. A United States group funds the salary for a rural teacher in Nicaragua. (I heard the name NINA when I was talking to a teacher here, but can’t find that name. Does anyone know which organization he may have been refering to?) One school we visited had two teachers, each who received their salaries from this NGO before going on government payroll.