How changes at NPH's school are helping pequeños and the surrounding community get a better education. January 12, 2017 - Honduras
The end of the school day on El Rancho Santa Fe is a flurry of activity. Younger students down at the school don their backpacks to make the walk back, while older kids finish cleaning their chosen vocational workshops, and share a joke or two with their teachers before heading back to their hogars. From the herd of returning students, a small group of kids walking the other direction branches out. This is NPH's "externos," or external students, who attend the school but live in one of the nearby towns. Rosalina* is one such of these students, and is both animated and excited whenever someone asks her about school at NPH
Rosalina in the tutoring room at the school.
As a 13-year-old seventh grader from a nearby town, Rosalina travels to the school every day with her father, who is doing construction and renovations at the Ranch. Although she has only been at the Ranch's school for one year, she can already see the difference. "I love the school here. It is better than the one I used to attend. There are better teachers, more materials, and better classes here," she explains. "Sure, the teachers can be strict, and much more so than my old school," she says with a giggle, "but I think that is part of why I am learning so much."
The quality seventh-grade education she is receiving is riding on several changes this past year on how secondary classes are taught. Previously, the 7th through 9th graders attended classes that were separate from the primary school, and it was a short walk through an open field to where the vocational workshops are located. Now, in accordance with higher governmental educational standards, the school has opted to switch to a "Centro Basico" educational system. To fit the new standards, the 7th through 9th graders have been moved back down to the main primary school campus, and their days have seen a positive shift in classes, teachers, materials, curriculum, and scheduling.
"This year, I have thirteen classes. A few people teach the three big ones - social science, Spanish, and civics class - and then we have lots of teachers for the other ten," she explains. Because several more teachers are brought in for teaching specific classes, budgets had to be adjusted when overhauling the schools' education system. The changes seem to be paying off. Grades, including Rosalina's, were high in the first testing cycle since the changes were made, and the school staff eagerly awaits the next round of exams to see what measurable gains the students are now making. Apart from the obvious advantage of being able to find teachers or international volunteers with specializations in each area to teach the remaining ten classes, Rosalina likes the new system for simpler reasons. "I don't know how to explain it, but I think I just concentrate better when there are different teachers each time!"
Apart from normal class, Rosalina also participates in the school's tutoring program, which helps her stay on pace in certain subjects with her other classmates. Many of them have been at NPH's school their entire life. "I like my tutoring sessions! I get lessons in math, which can be really difficult for me. The two tutors are very smart and are fun to learn from!" This is we hope to see as a result in making changes in school systems. Students can receive a higher quality and more comprehensive education while having the support to stay on pace with the rest of their class when needed.
While more time is needed to see just how impactful this new system will be, its short term results are clear. "At the very least I'm a lot more confident with myself at this school. One day soon I'm going to be a nurse!"
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Alex Hanel Communication Officer
You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson