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Friday, September 11, 2009

Compadres Journal Part IV

This is a system just now receiving support from their government. The current vice-president is a former teacher. Teachers now have growing expectations that things will change for the better. What a wonderful time to get involved in partnership with Salvadoran educators!

We visited schools in the Bajo Lempa area and in San Jose Las Flores. There is a great discrepancy between the schools in these areas. San Jose Las Flores has a thriving school community headed by Nelson, a true education innovator. Their first schools were built from the rubble of crumbling buildings. Nelson started teaching with a third grade education. His students used charcoal to write on rocks. By the end of the war, a group of teachers were able to upgrade their education and become certified. Now there is a branch of UCA, the Jesuit University in San Jose Las Flores. Over 300 students have signed up to take courses at this satellite school. Teachers now receive training in the community. This community has had a long-lasting connection with the Sisters of Ascension in Spain and from the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts through the Sister Cities Program. Linkages with groups outside the country work very well to assist the Salvadoran people to develop strong, vital communities. This is part of the social and economic rebuilding that needs to take place throughout the country. While communities like San Jose Las Flores receive a good deal of help from international donors, there is no question that the local people are the ones in control.

The schools in Bajo Lempa receive less support. Teachers in this area are poorly paid and many student come to school without food or water. Transportation is a major expense for parents costing up to $1.00 a day. The teachers are completely dedicated, apart from teaching; they are responsible for the physical maintenance of the school. The administrator of the school has the standard duties of one running a school, but she receives no compensation for these duties.

Meeting with high school students in Bajo Lempa was a wonderful experience. For over an hour we asked them about their lives and struggles, but we mainly focused on their hopes. I record them all here, one thing is very obvious, they want to be a part of the change that is coming to El Salvador.

meeting with high school students
in the Bajo Lempa area

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