One of the most important ways MPI works to empower the next generation of Nicaraguans is through education. A severe educational deficit exists in Nicaragua, with only twenty-nine percent (29%) of children completing primary school. The direct and implicit costs of schooling—books, uniforms, loss of potential income—force many to drop out at an early age. Even those who do attend school do so for a mere four hours a day, often in classrooms full of forty or more students where resources are stretched thin. This state of education, coupled with lax attendance policies and a tradition of “social promotion,” in which children are passed to the next grade as they grow older, regardless of their mastery of the necessary skills, leaves the children at a complete disadvantage in an educated global society.
The goals of MPI’s education programs are to reinforce what students are learning in school, provide extra assistance for those behind grade level, and instill a lifelong appreciation for the benefits of an education. Small teacher to student ratios allow our programs to foster relationships between the students and the teachers, which increases the quality of the education and promotes the child’s feeling of self-worth.
Rosmery Martiznez Canales has worked as the librarian at El Salero since January 2009. She has a deep love of children and literature. She enjoys planning crafts for the children as well as helping the youth do research for their homework assignments.
The MPI Literacy Class offers participating students the chance to practice reading comprehension and writing skills. Currently, the class meets every Monday and Wednesday for an hour and a half in Cedro Galán. Exercises include group reading, grammar worksheets, writing activities, and spelling games. Participating students range from six to fifteen years old, and are divided by ability into four groups. The youngest group, Level A, practices phonetics and sentence construction; Levels B and C reinforce reading comprehension skills, grammar, and spelling; and Level D focuses on reading chapter books and fostering creativity through journal writing. Our goals include increased reading ability, critical thinking, creativity, and a deeper appreciation of the benefits of literacy.
With Nicaragua looking to make inroads in the tourist industry and become more integrated in an increasingly globalized world, speaking English has become an invaluable skill. As volunteers in Nicaragua, we recognize that one of our greatest assets is our ability to provide quality English instruction. While English is a required course for all students in high school, the level of English instruction is extremely lacking.
MPI currently runs seven English classes in Nicaragua that serve over one hundred adults, teenagers, and children. Four programs meet in Cedro Galan, two in Chiquilistagua, and one in La Chureca. The classes range in level from beginner to advanced. During class, we combine standard exercises of reading, writing, and speaking with games and various group activities. These classes are one of the cornerstones of our volunteers’ relationships with local community members. Through these friendships, we are constantly establishing a greater presence and greater trust within the community.
Music and Creative Arts
Music is the focus of this class, with an emphasis on drumming and rhythms. Most Nicaraguans never have a chance to learn about music since it is not a subject in public schools. In addition to the basics of reading and playing music and rhythms, valuable qualities are indirectly taught in this music class (e.g. patience, listening to your peers, persistence in practicing). Creative arts will be incorporated in the class through making home-made drums and instruments. Students range in age from eight to fifteen. We meet for an hour twice a week. A concert is in the near future in order to showcase what the students have learned!
Computer class is a great way for kids to get familiar with computers and perfect their typing skills. We meet every Friday at El Salero. In class, we use a typing program that consists of fifteen different lessons at various difficulty settings. The program also offers a variety of typing games as well. The kids really enjoy learning how to use a computer and how to type.
Josue Olivares Velasquez has worked as the computer lab instructor at El Salero since April 2009. He has a growing knowledge of computers and networks and has done a great job in setting up the internet cafe. He is very resourceful to all who need help searching online or using the computer for homework assignments.