Children from poor neighborhoods who go to school, get an ‘education’ in state schools where there are few skilled teachers to be found and certainly no teaching materials. Teachers hardly work with books at all and the children, themselves, must buy their own writing materials and pencils. There is constant chaos both in and out of the classroom. Many students’ education is immediately derailed, because there is such a large gap between the education level in kindergarten and the expectations of students in first grade. To make it worse, 40% of the students in first grade did not even attend kindergarten, but instead went straight into elementary school where the educational expectations were beyond anything they were prepared for. Each day the teacher will finish her lesson without being aware of the cognitive and/or social-emotional level of her students. She then usually chooses the best students to work with and leaves the rest to their fate. To make matters worse, students cannot repeat first grade and are herded like so many cattle into second grade. There, they either repeat the class so many times that they finally give up and drop out of school or they are blindly sent on to higher classes, with disastrous results. For example, several 5th grade children still cannot read simple words out loud, and even fewer can do simple arithmetic.
It should also be mentioned that, in addition to the situation described above, education is conducted in a brutal and condescending manner, a condition that is experienced at home as well. As a result, the people of Iquitos have low self esteem and a very negative self-image.
Objective El Manguaré:
With our Education Quality Improvement Program, we work with the teachers from a local school to meet the following educational requirements:
- Set clear rules and agreements for the students within their classroom.
- Provide the teachers with a solid basic knowledge in the areas of language and math and materials to use. This is achieved through intensive training for the teachers so they can learn how to improve their courses and make them more dynamic for the pupils. Moreover, both children and teachers are given courses to properly use these materials.
- Increase the self-esteem and self-confidence of students. This is achieved by training and motivating teachers to adopt a positive attitude in class so their pupils are motivated to learn. To achieve this we use the Suzuki method which is based on the idea that each child has talent and is able to learn. Our teachers receive intensive training in this method.
- Provide special individual attention to children who have learning difficulties and/or external factors that hold them back from the rest of their classmates. We provide knowledge to the teacher about how they can better work with these pupils within the class.
Background and plan of action:
The program to improve education was developed in 2008 by the founders of the Peruvian Asociación El Manguaré in Iquitos for the children of the children’s home “Arco Iris”. As a result of this program the children made huge leaps forward in the classroom. And not just in academic term. The children began to believe in themselves and thus the possibility of a better life in the future. As a result of these successes, in 2009 we decided to introduce this program in schools in disadvantaged areas of Iquitos. We decided to train the teachers of the target school for two years in order to ensure continuity.
The results speak for themselves. The students in the classrooms where El Manguaré is assisting often perform at a higher level than the children from the next higher grade in the same school. Furthermore there is a positive social atmosphere in the classes where El Manguare is helping. In those classrooms, the children enjoy learning. In addition, both the school administration and the families of the children are more invested and involved in the children’s educational success.
As a result fewer children drop out of these classes, they score significantly better on state tests and they receive a stable foundation for the rest of their school careers and their lives.
One of our goals is to reduce the dropout rate of students. El Manguaré tries to do so by improving the quality and relevance of education in local schools. Specifically we focus on the teaching level of the 1st and 2nd grade. We help these children gain a better basic understanding of reading, writing, and arithmetic which increases their self-confidence, and improves their ability to understand other subjects in school.
In addition to the intensive training of teachers in one selected local school, Manguaré also provides annual trainings to larger groups of local teachers in the fields of early stimulation, making math fun, technical reading and comprehension, and creating a positive learning environment.