When the Board of Directors of SCSRN decided to begin building rural primary schools in 2002, the prevailing thought was this: “If my kids can go to elementary school, why can’t kids in San Ramón go?” At that time, over half of school-aged children in the rural communities of San Ramón didn’t go to school. Those that did go often had to attend class in community centers or outside. Since 2002, SCSRN has completed 18 primary school construction projects. Along with the Ministry of Education and many other organizations, SCSRN has been a large part in making sure that all children in this rural municipality of Nicaragua can have a place to attend primary school.
In San Ramon, there are presently 78 rural primary schools. These schools offer K-6 education for San Ramón’s school-aged children, with student populations in each school ranging from 25 to 200. Imagine the most basic of facilities: one or two cinder block buildings, some with running water and electricity, some without, and a latrine or composting toilet. Some schools also have a kitchen with a wood stove, where the mothers take turns cooking the children’s lunch, which is always rice and beans. The Ministry of Education uses its paper-thin budget to provide the teacher’s salary, a few sacks of rice and beans each semester, desks, a whiteboard, and a few books for the teacher.
We are proud to have had a hand in making sure that every child in San Ramón has access to a 6th-grade education. Now we’re turning our attention to our next burning question: “If our kids can go to high school, why can’t kids in San Ramón go?” Currently there are only two fully functioning high schools to serve the entire population of San Ramón. Both of these schools are overcrowded, with capacity for only 1,500 students total. Roughly 700 students graduate every year from 6th grade; that means about 2,000 students that are left out of the system. Even if there were space for everyone, for most kids in rural communities, the transportation costs to and from school are simply too much. Add to that the fact that many high school-aged kids are expected to work to support their families, and you have some seemingly insurmountable barriers to getting a high school education.
To break down these barriers, we’re joining forces with the Ministry of Education’s new rural high school program. The Ministry of Education has opened high school courses on Saturdays in six strategic primary schools in the municipality of San Ramón. This drastically cuts down on transportation costs for students in rural communities, and with Saturday classes, students who have to work during the week can attend. But with this new option available, students are flocking to enroll, and space in these makeshift high schools is becoming a serious issue.
That’s where SCSRN comes in. We’re building towards a future in which everyone in San Ramón has access to high school education. This year, in addition to building a pre-school classroom as we do every year, we are also going to build a two-classroom building at a rural high school in 2016. We estimate that this will cost $30,000. We invite you to be a part making it possible for every kid in San Ramón to go to high school!