What is La Escuelita?
It is a kindergarten and elementary school in Managua, Nicaragua. The purpose of the school is to provide instruction for extremely poor children. With the new government the policy is free education for all children. However, a child without money to buy school supplies and books is not able to really study. For parents with no money this often means that children do not attend school. The government estimates over 35% of children nationally are not in school. In addition, many children have to work to supplement the family income or take care of the younger children or elderly grandparents while parents are at work. Since its beginning in 1996, La Escuelita has provided to over 2,500 students.
By the 2017 School Year, The Little School will have expanded to a second floor and will include the third grade. The teacher's goal is to make this "The finest school in our neighborhood."
The Mission of La Escuelita
An educational opportunity for children who probably would not have otherwise attended school;
A place for education and social development for children, adolescents and adults and support for some of the poorest families;
A food program that is a significant part of the basic family support since this is often the one secure meal of the day in a population that suffers from malnutrition;
A much-needed follow-up support system for the children both through parent meetings and direct home visits.
The History of La Escuelita
In the city of Managua, capital city of Nicaragua, there is a very poor community called Santa Domingo. This area suffered terrible destruction in the 1972 earthquake and was reduced to rubble. Although initially declared uninhabitable by the government, poor people from other parts of Managua who could not afford to live elsewhere, and people from the countryside who kept streaming into the capital looking for work, settled here and eventually the government stopped trying to remove people. Many years later, it still has very little infrastructure, has largely not been rebuilt since the earthquake, and is the location of the Oriental Market, the largest outdoor market in Central America, covering 80 city blocks, which is known as a place to find anything legal or illegal, and for its danger.
In 1996, members of the district who were encouraged by some visiting young people from Spain, met to discuss how to improve the impoverished community. From these meetings came the clear need for a school for kindergarteners, elementary children and for adult literacy education. Five people from the community stepped forward and two of them continue to this day to be the main teachers and to manage the school.
It was decided that this school, which was named La Escuelita (The Little School), had to adapt to the needs of the children in the community rather than make the students adapt to the needs of the school, which is usually the case.
In 1996 the Escuelita started with 120 elementary school aged children and 30 adults in the literacy class, 40 desks and three donated blackboards. In 1999, it was accepted by the Nicaraguan government as an official school.
Life Today at La Escuelita
The school now has three classrooms which open onto a small patio where there is a play structure, two bathrooms and a very small cooking area. The school owns the building.
There are morning, afternoon and evening classes for different age groups, and one hot meal is cooked by teachers and served to the children. For many children this is the only meal they receive during the day, and the teachers try to make it wholesome and filling. In this time of rising prices , the cost of food is over $600 per month.
The older children who attend in the afternoon have missed much schooling, and are a variety of ages and function at an early grade school level; the teachers are working to bring them up to grade level. The three teachers share the teaching load. They require the parents to attend periodic meetings so that the teachers can reinforce the learning of the children. Currently there are 160 students registered, and 110 completed the year. Whenever possible, the teachers follow up with the students who leave the school.
La Escuelita is under the 501c3 of CEPAD*USA, a US organization that
works for the poor of Nicaragua and is connected to CEPAD Nicaragua, a Nicaraguan development organization of Protestant churches.
To donate to La Escuelita, make checks out to CEPAD*USA
earmarked for La Escuelita and send to:
5605 Groomsbridge Court
Raleigh, NC 27612
All contributions are deductible for U.S. I.R.S purposes.