Our work with Women and Girls.
Our Parent Empowerment Trainings have served nearly 8,000 parents, 90% of whom are mothers. The vast majority of mothers who participate are uneducated, illiterate and extremely poor. They are subjected to deep rooted gender barriers.
Our rights-based approach is designed to engage, inform and empower these mothers to hold teachers and the government accountable over five years of bi-monthly trainings. We help them understand that as parents, they are their child's "first educators".
We teach the mothers how they can help their children learn, even if they are unable to read and write themselves. Throughout the trainings, we empower mothers to begin to assert themselves (e.g., going to the school to ask how their children are doing in school, etc.) all with the motivation of enabling them to address delinquent teachers who are not showing up every day, coming late on other days, generally not using the school day to teach the children or otherwise abusing the children.
Within months, we begin to see the mothers feeling empowered with just simple ways of helping their children learn and the empowerment grows as their engagement increases with the schools and teachers. When the mothers are at the point of being able to address problems with teachers confidently and even insist that the Ministry of Education take action, we know that the change we seek to create in the schools is sustainable. Here is a powerful example:
"At first, the community leaders in our first community refused to allow the women to attend to the trainings. They finally agreed after we made it a non-negotiable. When we began these trainings, the women were extremely timid and barely spoke. Once we gained their trust, they opened up and we quickly learned that the principal was problematic. They had given up hope. After considerable training of these women, they approached the Ministry of Education, at a high level and demanded change. They stood their ground and within a year the mothers dominated the school parents committee, worked closely with the new school director and, in their words "got rid of two teachers who were not showing up". Since then, the dropout rate has been reduced by 60% and today children from other communities walk long distances to attend this school because they heard "it was a better school".
Our Early Childhood Program trains mothers to become Early Childhood Development experts. They call themselves Tijonels (community volunteers). Through this program, mothers, some who have never learned to read or write, become empowered to teach the other mothers in their community about how to engage with their infants to promote critical developmental milestones and ensure that they are ready to learn in a classroom setting! We have seen tremendous success with this program and can't wait to expand it further in 2023! Learn more: https://schooltheworld.org/early-childhood-program/
In 2018 we expanded our programs to include scholarships for children, girls in particular, who graduated the 6th grade and dreamt of continuining on to lower secondary school. In rural areas of Central America it is very rare for girls to continue their learning past the 6th grade due to many different factors such as a family's economic stress and traditional culture norms.
Our Scholarship Program provides financial, educational and emotional support for girls so that they can continue studying in lower secondary school. The actual scholarship itself covers transportation (walking to and from school, often long distances, can be very dangerous for a girl), uniform, school supplies, internet cafe allowances so that they can complete their assignments, a dedicated mentor from our team and 24/7 support through our WhatsApp support groups! Additionally, our Scholarship Workshops on human rights, life & digital skills and career paths set girls up for success and empower them to realize their full potential.
To date, we have sent more than 600 girls to lower secondary school and hope to reach more every year!
Check out this video of Eugenia, a scholarship recipient who dreams of becoming a graphic designer!