In February, Dr. Jennifer Goldberg led a delegation of teachers to Nicaragua with the New Haven León Sister City Project (NH/LSCP) that included Stephanie Santos, a graduate student in GSEAP’s Elementary Education program. NH/LSCP is a progressive, binational, grassroots organization that fosters a partnership between the communities of Greater New Haven and León, Nicaragua, and whose mission is to promote social justice.
Most of our time was focused on education in Goyena, a rural community outside of León, which was displaced by Hurricane Mitch. We observed classes and met with community members, including students, teachers, and micro-loan participants. Our delegation brought school supplies, including a book created by first grade students in Ashley Freeman’s (graduate student in Elementary Education program) classroom at Greens Farms Academy in Westport. Dr. Jen Goldberg and Stephanie Santos also taught lessons using tangrams.
Although our delegation spent only 8 days in Nicaragua, some major issues affecting the quality of education jumped out at us immediately after observing in their schools and talking to the teachers, students, and parents. For example, there is an absence of books and extremely limited supplies in the schools, particularly in Goyena. While we did note that the older students had individual notebooks and pencils, there were no other books seen in any of our Goyena observations.
Teachers receive limited teacher training and their salaries are extremely low, especially in rural areas, requiring most of them to hold second or third jobs just to earn a living. In fact, the two preschool teachers in Goyena have not received any pay so far this year from the Ministry of Education, who claim they simply lack the necessary funds.
While in the United States we argue for maximum class sizes of 20-30 students, the required “minimum” size of a classroom in Nicaragua is 40 students. Despite such limitations, the teachers we observed in Nicaragua are dedicated to the education of these children and want to create interesting, challenging lessons for their students. Our delegation of teachers is committed to helping provide resources for these dedicated teachers – from providing classroom supplies to teacher training. Contact Dr. Jen Goldberg, email@example.com, for more information.
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