Where do the scholarship students live?
The students live in rural areas of the Department of Matagalpa. Most live in small villages that consist of clusters of modest houses and some agricultural land. Most students have neither electricity nor potable water available near their homes.
Where are the elementary schools?
Some villages have an elementary school, which is often the only shared indoor space in the community. Some young children have to travel to school on foot or by bus. One recent graduate from the scholarship program, Jacqueline, used to have to walk two hours in each direction to get to her elementary school.
Where do the older students study?
Many of the older students need to work during the week to help their families. Usually, they work in agriculture, but a few students sell vegetables or goods in a nearby town. These students travel to attend high school or university classes on the weekends. There is no tuition charged for high school, but the students need to provide their own transportation and meals. They must also buy printouts of course materials and school supplies. University students travel even farther to school, usually to the city of Matagalpa, at their own expense. The trip takes approximately two hours each way for some of them. They pay tuition and need to purchase course materials, school supplies, and internet time for research.
How are the scholarship students selected?
AMC selects the scholarship students from applications it receives. It evaluates the applications to determine financial need, and selects the students who are dedicated to pursuing their studies. Scholarship students must maintain good grades in order to remain in the program.
What’s the education system like in Nicaragua?
While public elementary and high school education in Nicaragua is free, families need to pay for school supplies, backpacks, and transportation. These costs are a prohibitive burden for many families. Uniforms haven’t been required since 2010, but have long been the custom and remain a de facto need in most areas and an additional expense for families. The academic year runs from February through November, with a break in July. Primary (elementary) school is grades 1-6. Students attend either morning or afternoon sessions. Secondary (high) school consists of 5 grade levels. In rural areas, many students don’t start school immediately or have to take time off, so they are often in a lower grade than their age would suggest. It’s also not unusual for particularly motivated students to complete more than one academic year at a time.
Do most students go to school?
In Nicaragua, only about 43% of eligible children are enrolled in secondary school. The problem with school retention is amplified for the poorest children: 60% of economically disadvantaged children drop out before grade 5.
Who is AMC?
AMC (Acción Médica Cristiana) began in 1984 with young Nicaraguan doctors offering charitable health services to impoverished communities in Nicaragua’s Caribbean regions. Today AMC has a multidisciplinary staff of health and development professionals that includes agronomists, psychologists, social workers, educators, public health and disaster prevention specialists. AMC and communities are working with an integrated approach to benefit more than 90,000 people throughout Nicaragua with a special emphasis on women’s, children’s and adolescent health. Local capacity building, lobbying and advocacy bring empowerment to historically marginalized people. (Source: AMC website). We have met with AMC on several occasions over a period of years, both in their Managua headquarters and at their health clinic in Santa Luz (near El Tuma, Matagalpa). We’ve been impressed by their dedication, intelligence and creativity in helping communities in their efforts to transcend poverty, as well as their generous and open-minded approach. They are ecumenical and non-proselytizing, and they work with many local and international organizations that share a desire to help rural Nicaraguans improve their quality of life.
Can you tell me more about Nicaragua?
Nicaragua is a country of approximately 6 million people. It is the largest country in Central America, located between Honduras to the North and Costa Rica to the South. Managua is its capital. It is a geologically varied country, with volcanos, beach, cloud forest, and rain forest areas as well as arid regions and farmland. Nicaragua’s principal exports are coffee, beef, gold and sugar. Nicaragua has a predominantly tropical climate with two seasons. The wet season (referred to as winter) runs from approximately May to October and the dry season (summer) lasts from around November to April. The official language is Spanish which is spoken by nearly 96% of the population.