Sister Schools Program in Honduras

Un Mundo invites your school, classroom, club, or group to be a sister school with one of the serverly marginalized schools in the Cangrejal Valley, a rural region in Northern Honduras.  Your partnership and support could make a significant impact on increasing literacy rates and education in these isolated schools that currently have minimal access to resources.  This is an extraordinary opportunity for intercultual exchange that will increase global knowledge, as well as build literacy for your own students.

As a sister school, you pledge to:

  • Participate in a 100 Book Day with your sister school to promote literacy in both communities and raise funds for literacy programming in the Honduran school.
  • Generate $1,500 in one year through fundraising activities, including the 100 Book Day. Funds will support:
    Engage in book exchanges with your sister school, trading books that reflect and share the life in different countries and cultures. Shared books can be either handmade by your students (as your sister school will do) or published.
    • Your sister school to receive access to books and other literacy resources
    • Monthly Bibliobandido programming (the Bibliobandido is a playful and interactive mobile lending library and book-making station that makes visits to the schools throughout the region to promote literacy).

In exchange for your participation as a sister school, your institution will:

  • Receive quarterly reports about your school's progress.
  • Receive videos and pictures of your sister school to share with your community.
  • Receive handmade books created by the students at your sister school.
  • OPTIONAL: For U.S. schools that exceed their fundraising goals, we invite you to participate in a summer exchange trip to Honduras to participate in home-stays, visit your sister school and work and learn side-by-side with the students at your sister school and participate in the Bibliobandido activity.

Manuel Zelaya Rosales Elementary School
Community: El Japon, Atlantida, Honduras (click to see map)
Teacher Information: 1 Teacher
Average Enrollment: 30
Year Built: 2008
Sponsor_El_Japon.jpg

 

The year 2009 was the community’s first full year with a school building.  In 2007, and part of 2008, class was held in a small champa up the hill from the current location.  The building was publically funded through FHIS (Fondo Hondureño de Inversión Social).  There are electrical units installed, but in 2009, there was still no service to connect them to.  There is also no running water on the grounds.  There are three simple latrine toilets near the school.  The school is new and, therefore, in very good condition, and even has a small play area in front of the building, although it is dangerously close to the road. Most kids live right nearby, but one student walks an hour to get to school in the mornings.  All grade levels have class together as there is only one teacher.  Each grade sits at a separate table and is given assignments to work on while the teacher devotes attention to another grade.    

The only teacher, Elvia Azuceña Ponce Reyes, lives in El Japón and plans on teaching there for years to come.  Elvia often feels overwhelmed being the only teacher, since most of the first and second graders (13 kids) cannot read, so she has to dedicate a significant portion of her time to these kids. Her greatest challenges (and those of her students) are multilevel classroom issues and that the students who live farthest away sometimes do not come.  Then when these absentee students show up to school, Prof. Elvia is forced to pay them special attention to bring them up to speed.


Miguel Banegas Elementary School
Community: El Paraiso, Atlantida, Honduras (click to see map)
Year School Built: 1998
Annual Enrollment Average: 80
Number of Teachers: 2 
 

Sponsor_El_Paraiso.jpg This school has two rooms and holds all classes in the morning, from 7:00-noon. Grades 1, 5, and 6 meet together in one room, and grades 2, 3, and 4 in the other room.  The school has no electricity and there are three bathrooms at the side of the schools (one for teachers, one for boys, and one for girls). In front of both the old and new school buildings, there is an open grassy hill where the kids run around during recess.  

Profesora Denia is both director and one of the two teachers.  Dania lives 30 mins away in the community of Toncontin and she walks everyday to access the school. Prof. Denia views parental disinterest as the greatest obstacle to learning that her students face.  She says some parents only send their kids to school a few days a week.  Another obstacle that Denia mentions is the frequency of students arriving at school without having eaten.  She explains that the government-supplied snacks are essential to the success of the school day, however, the delivery of this ration if often disorganized and inconsistent.  An additional challenge at this school is that there are various rivers that divide the community, and often during the rainy season many students can’t attend school because they can’t cross the rivers.


Eulogio Enamorado Elementary School

Community: La Colorada (click to see map)             
Year School Was Built: 1973
Average Student Enrollment: 20
Number of Teachers: 1          

Sponsor_La_Colorada.jpg 
According to the teacher/director, this one-room school was built by an NGO from the U.S. There are four bathrooms (far more than are needed), but only one is used because of rotting wood in the others.  There is running water, but no electricity.  The roof has signs of water damage, and the cement floor has some large holes.  There are two blackboards – one at each end of the room – but both are old, deteriorating and dirty. All of the students live a short walk away from the school building.

There is one teacher at this school managing six levels.  Over the past few years the school has had different teachers every few months or year to year, however, recently a young, recent graduate took over the director and teacher position and has been working to make significant improvements to the education.


School #4: Alfonso Guillen Zelaya

Community: La Lucha (click to see map)            
Year School Was Built: 2006
Average Student Enrollment: 20
# of Teachers: 1           
GPS Location: N 15˚41.142’ W 86˚37.221’   

Sponsor_La_Lucha.jpg         
The school in La Lucha is composed of one large room and the adjacent storage room.  Behind the school there is a champa-style overhang to hold class outside.  There is no electricity here. There are two new bathrooms, which were constructed by a recent latrine project by the Spanish Corporation. Both the school building and the bathroom are in good condition.  The school building has wooden walls and a tin roof on a wooden frame.  It was built by the community, almost exclusively with local materials (except for the tin roof and cement floor).  There is one fairly old and dirty chalkboard, and just enough desks and chairs for the students. This school is very shorthanded when comes to materials that the kids have to work with, even things like extra pencils and notebooks are lacking.

Profesor Manuel began teaching in 2012 and is recent graduate and very enthusiatic. He lives in La Lucha during the week and travels to his home in (3 hr walking and 1.5 in bus) La Ceiba on the bus for the weekends.  Class starts at 7:00 in the morning and goes until noon.  All of the students live within a 15 minutes’ walk of the school, which allows the teacher to start early.  The greatest obstacles that the students face regarding their education are the distance of the community from health services and lack of communication, the fact that there is no good nutritional plan for the students, and the lack of government support.


School #5: John Lee Waker B.

Community: La Muralla (click to see map)           
Year School Was Built: 2000   
Average Student Enrollment: 25   
GPS Location: N 15˚41.488’ W 86˚43.796’  
                                 

Sponsor_La_Muralla.jpg

 

This school is a one-room, multi-grade school that was built with money and labor from a Mennonite congregation from Canada.  The community donated the land and helped with manual labor.  There is a small storage room adjacent to the class room that is part of the same building.  Electricity is provided by the nearby hydro-electric generator.  There is no recreation area or equipment and there is one simple pit latrine bathroom a few steps behind the school, as well as a water faucet.  Students often must share textbooks and supplies like erasers, which can cause considerable attention problems.  Children are seated by grade-level at separate tables, and the teacher moves between the tables. With few resources to copy worksheets and such, teachers have students work in used textbook themselves, which, if they have been used in past years, is a problem because many answers are already filled in.


Heber is the only teacher in La Muralla and has been working here for 5 or 6 years. Heber is not from the community of La Muralla, therefore he travels 1 hour by motorcycle and 40 mins walking to get to the school every day, so often classes will be delayed or canceled due to challenges in route.  Heber states that the illiteracy and lack of economic resources are the main obstacles which students face in their learning.  Additionally, he expressed concern that the current national curriculum doesn’t take into account the reality of campesino/rural life, and is, in fact, geared more towards the students’ urban counterparts.  He feels that the greatest aid to him and the students in terms of resources would be a small library of story books for kids to practice their reading, as well as a variety of audio-visual resources, of which there are currently none.


School #6: Pedro Nufio

Community: Los Limpios (click to see map)        
Year School Was Founded:1879   
Average Student Enrollment: 120
# of Teachers: 3   
GPS Location: N 15˚37.546’ W 86˚42.812’

Sponsor_Los_Limpios.jpg

 

According to the school director, the community has had a school since 1979.  There are three classrooms, but the space is hardly sufficient for the 126 students.  All students have class in the mornings (7:00-12:00) given that the three teachers all walk home (2-3hrs) to either Río Viejo or Toncontín in the afternoons.  In 2009, first and second graders had classes together and grades four through six had classes together, while third grade had its own classroom and teacher because of the high number of students in that grade (47).  The school does not have electricity, but does have running water and a bathroom.  The building was collaborative effort between the government and the community.

There are three teachers at the school, two of whom live in Río Viejo (the director, Suyamara Vargas, and Rode Vargas), and one of whom lives in Toncontín (Yuri Vega).


School #7: Yimy Alexes Martinez 

Community: Los Pirineos  (click to see map)                   
Year School Was Built: 2009
Average Student Enrollment: 30
# of Teachers: 1                                         

Sponsor_Pirineos.jpg

 

The school was finished in 2009 and was funded with money from a Spanish foundation through the local catholic mission that one passes on the way to the community.  Community members helped with the physical labor.  It is just one big room that is shared by all grades.  There is a water faucet and latrine adjacent to the school.  There was no electricity.  The school is better supplied than similar schools because of the relationship with the Catholic Church which has provided a number of things, including maps, pencils, books, and posters.  The majority of the students live very close to the school, while a couple walk about one kilometer.

Since this school was built it has experienced high teacher turnover for the past three years, often in the middle of the year.  The teachers use the national curriculum but since the students are so far behind, they often have to deviate from the standard.  They will typically not handout homework because parents cannot help their children and, most often, the students do not complete the assignments. One of the biggest obstacles teachers at this school have faced is that parents frequently send their kids to work or do family errands instead of attend school. 


School #8: Rosa Galatea Rosales

Community: Los Planes Delicias  (click to see map)               
Year School Was Built: 1975   
Average Student Enrollment: 25
# of Teachers: 1       
GPS LocationSponsor_Los_Planes.jpg: N 15˚37.822 W 86˚46.105’

 

This school is the furthest from the main road of all the schools in the region.  It takes roughly 4 hours to arrive on foot from the main road, and involves crossing multiple rivers as well as a couple of steep climbs.  The houses here are spread out across a big valley and some of the students walk 40 minutes to get to the school, which was built in 1975 by the government, according to the teacher.  There is a simple pit latrine adjacent to the school, but no running water nor electricity.  The one-room school has a cement foundation and cement walls.  The teacher has access to only a small, old and dirty blackboard, and would benefit greatly from a dry erase board in his opinion.  There are not enough social science books for third and fourth graders, and a couple of fifth and sixth graders had to share natural science books.


Jerson Noé Sanchez Romero worked at this school from 2007 until 2012, and in 2012 left his position, due to the great sacrifice he had to make being away from him family given that he is from another region in the country.  Recently a new teacher, who is from the Cangrejal Region, but not from Los Planes has replaced Jerson.  The greatest obstacles to getting a good education in Los Planes, in Jerson’s view, are: 1) the distance of the community from resources, 2) malnutrition – students arrive without eating a sufficient amount of food, and 3) lack of support and encouragement that kids receive from their parents.


School #9: Juan Manuel Gálvez

Community: Nueva Suyapa  (click to see map)              
Year School Was Built: 1990   
Average Student Enrollment: 20
# of Teachers: 1        

Sponsor_Nueva_Suyapa.jpg

 

This is a one-room school without electricity.  All grades meet together with the lone teacher from 8:00 until noon.  There are only 16 students enrolled, and only 4 boys.  The student with the longest walk to school lives 15 minutes away.     
   
The teacher, Nelson, lives in the nearby community of Yaruca and travels daily to give classes in the morning.


School #10: Rafael Emlio Jaar

Community: San Luis (click to see map)              
Year School Was Built: No school, class is held in the church
Average Student Enrollment: 20
# of Teachers: 1
GPS Location: N 15˚35.624’ W 86˚39.470’            

Sponsor_San_Luis_.jpg

 

There is no school building in this community; classes are held in an old Catholic church. The bathroom is an old, wooden latrine adjacent to the church building. There is no electricity, and the faucet for the running water is broken.  The teacher works with an insufficient number of Spanish textbooks.  

The teacher at this school recently transferred to a new school and we have yet to receive the information on the new teacher. Previous teachers dedicated much of their time trying to support the community to construct a school building, which government funds had been allocated, however since the coup of 2009, funds have no longer been available to construct the school. Apart from not having the infrastructure necessary, other obstacles for this school are that many parents require their children to do work in the fields, causing gaps in their studies.