After School Project – Provides subsidized bus fare to students active in the WOO after school program. After school project highlights include environmental education, life planning courses, sustainable farming, etc.
School Support Project – Subsidize the salaries of three additional teachers at the elementary school in Gigante, Nicaragua. Previously, one teacher instructed all 80 students alone.
Elementary School Support and Teacher Training
Background – In 2001 the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education built the first formal structures – two equal sized one room buildings made of brick with corrugated metal roofs – to serve as the elementary school and the kindergarten for Gigante. Due to a lack of financial resources as well as the geographic isolation of the community, the Ministry of Education has only ever had the capability to provide Gigante with one teacher for grades one through four. Basic school supplies for teachers and students like books, maps, calculators, chalk, rulers, etc. are hard to come by. While daily snacks of cereal, rice and beans are provided by the government and prepared by the children’s mothers, supplies often run short and the students do not get a proper dose of nutrients. Even prior to Project WOO’s arrival members of the community identified this situation as problematic and began asking a few of the foreign surf camp and restaurant owners for handouts of school supplies and money.
Beginning with the 2007 school year, which runs from February through November, Lynn and Betty Mangum, a couple from New York who spend a few months every year vacationing in a home they own in Gigante, took it upon themselves to support the José Dolores Rivera school by providing the salaries for three extra elementary school teachers. They soon realized, however, that in order to yield the progressive results they desired the project would require hands-on leadership from an experienced community organizer.
As WOO Director of Operations Adam Monaghan was coordinating community analysis and project selection efforts early in 2007, he was introduced to the Mangums and became aware of their efforts to support local education. He, in turn, informed the Mangums that the villagers had identified increased support of local education as the second leading town-wide priority and explained the importance of coordinating efforts with local leaders, parents, teachers and students. A match was made and the Magnums’ asked Adam and WOO to take over management of the project starting in January 2008.
Current Situation – Since taking the reins of the José Dolores Rivera School Project, WOO staff and community members have identified and been working to address the following programmatic focal points:
1) Provide annual salary and health care benefits to three primary school teachers in order to reduce the student-teacher ratio and avoid overcrowded classrooms 2) Provide monthly stipend to one kindergarten teacher
3) Supply classroom materials and educational equipment to teachers and students
4) Train teachers in progressive education techniques to foster critical thinking skills and therefore break the cycle of rote memorization
5) Organize and train local parent-teacher association
6) Improve building and school grounds infrastructure
Future Endeavors – Because of a lack of resources (human and financial) Project WOO is currently limited to working only with the José Dolores Rivera elementary school that serves the approximately 80 coastal and northern access road students. We have just recently begun to develop a relationship with the other elementary school in Gigante, which serves about 30 students that live along the southern access road. The situation there is perhaps more urgent than that of José Dolores Rivera school because they have only one teacher for grades one through four, lack a functioning well to provide safe drinking water to the students, and have an active group of parents seeking to improve the situation of their children’s education. In light of this, Project WOO is seeking additional resources to fund our desired efforts to work with the Gigante #1 elementary school by creating sister school partnerships in districts across the United States.
In addition, the parents, teachers and students of both schools have recognized a need to build a small, two-room building on each school property that would serve as both a library and a storage house/kitchen to cook the student’s meals. To prepare for these projects, we will seek to work with the local parent-teacher committees to carry out project design and implementation trainings. Project WOO would therefore need to bring another staff member on board to dedicate his/her full attention to this process.
To see how you can help please refer to the “Take Action” section of this website for a detailed break-down of how your contribution can support local elementary education in Gigante. WOO After School Club
Background – Project WOO consulted with local families on a number of topics as we began putting together the WOO Transportation business proposal in early 2008 and it became increasingly clear that one of the main objectives for this business was going to be to provide necessary school transportation service to Gigante’s high school students, practically all of whom come from economically disadvantaged families. In Gigante the monthly family income is generally between $50.00 (for fishermen) and $200.00 (for the few families that have small businesses). We calculated that for the business to be profitable, it would have to charge twenty Córdobas (U.S. $1.00) per person for the trip from Gigante to Tola. While this does not seem like a lot of money at first glance, it would add up to 200 Córdobas ($10.00) per week per student. Some families have up to three students making the trip. To require each family to pay $40.00 per month per student solely for transportation to and from school would actually dissuade parents from sending their children to study.
To counter this possible hiccup, WOO Transportation decided to charge students five Córdobas ($0.25) per trip, adding up to a total of 50 Córdobas ($2.50) per week, or 200 Córdobas ($10.00) per month. The students therefore only pay twenty five percent of the actual price. However, in order for the business to be profitable, WOO Transportation realizes that it has to find a way to make up the other seventy five percent of the price. As such, Project WOO (the non-profit organization) has decided to subsidize seventy five percent of each student’s transportation…if each family promised that each student would participate in a special After School Club.
Current Situation – Beginning at the start of the new school year in February 2009, high school students meet two days a week in a structured environment for a few hours in the afternoon where they play games, do homework, and receive classes relating to a number of topics taught by Project WOO staff and volunteers, including (so far) English and organic gardening. There are rules for attendance and conduct that have been drawn up with and agreed to by students, parents and Project WOO staff. During the time that they spend at the WOO After School Club, these once isolated students are exposed to new ideas while being prompted to think critically and analyze the world around them by responsible adult role models.
Future Endeavors – We are currently seeking creative, dynamic volunteers to work with our students on a daily basis to impart new, exciting classes and expose the children to different role models. Ideas for future curriculum include computer literacy, world events, sports programs, entrepreneurship, and marine biology. The sky is truly the limit as we look to expand the After School Club to include elementary school students as well.
To see how you can help please refer to the “Take Action” section of this website for a detailed break-down of how your contribution can support the Afterschool Club and participating students.