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A rainy week in Granada, but work continues.

October 19, 2007

Challenges of commuting to school
A Muddy Commute to School
It’s been raining for a week. Everything is damp. Clothes hung out to dry are molding on the line and the rutted dirt roads have turned to mud. Yesterday, a rainbow split the sky. Today, it is raining again.

EI held a program-wide meeting with the parents of enrolled students this Wednesday. Despite the torrential rains, the turn-out was impressive. “Most of the parents came,” Anielka said. “The water was this deep,”she pointed to her mid-calf“ but people came. Some had plastic bags and held sheeting over their heads. Everyone was soaking.”

It is the involvement and dedication on the parents’ part that gives the EI program vigor and lasting influence in the children’s lives. “I could see how much interest the parents had,” Anielka said. “They were very serious about attending, and very concerned about their children, despite the horrible rain.” In the meeting, Anielka discussed the program next year. In response to falling school attendance rates, there will a new process by which students will be selected for EI scholarships.

“There are problems with some of the older kids, they are leaving school to find work,” Anielka said. “It’s a social problem in Nicaragua. but it’s a situation that we have to live with.” Some students may work because their families need the extra money, giving up on the better opportunities that completing school offers.

“They need an education, and if they stop going to school, they are cutting off the best road,” Anielka said. The new selection process will hopefully ensure that the most deserving students and families receive EI support, at least until comes the day when every student can be enrolled in EI’s programs.

For the first time, an interview will be part of the application process, and the students’ prior school records will also be examined. “With the new system, we’re going to try and make more careful choices with the kids,” Anielka said. “We want to improve the quality of the program participants and make sure that the most dedicated students and families are not being left out.”

Such complex and troublesome challenges aside, it has been a successful year for EI. At the end of this semester, 17 students will be moving on from primary to secondary school, and for the first time, two students will be graduating from high school and progressing on to university.

Margarita Arrólija is planning on studying engineering systems, a branch of computer science, and Lisbeth Hernández wants to pursue a career in tourism and hotels. “We’re working on ways to continue supporting them,” Anielka said. “We’re trying to work out something with the universities, maybe they’ll pay 40%, we’ll pay 40%, and the family will pay the rest – we want them to be invested in their children’s education.”

Coming back from the meeting, the streets of Villa Esperenza were washed out and Carla and Anielka hitched a ride back to the office in a horse-drawn cart.

— posted by Sam Jacoby

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never make it to 5th grade. It is our goal to make this percentage drop significantly.

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