Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22nd 2010 – Two Delegations

This morning at 4 a.m., in the pouring rain, our latest delegation departed. (And then I crawled back into bed to sleep a little more). And I woke up to no internet.

So this is a good time to sit and write now to post later. I don’t even know where to start. It has been a great couple of weeks. Ivwas in Iowa till the first week of August and the day after I arrived back here in Berlin, I had to go back to San Salvador to pick up a delegation.

That was a fabulous week. They were from my home church in Iowa and there were only 3 people - which is a VERY small group. That week flew by. There were many positive things about that week as well as a few disappointments. Those that visit regularly and have been coming for a long time (in the case of this church for over 12 years), get to know the realities of this country pretty well. And some things can be extremely frustrating.

On the same note …

The delegation that left this morning was made up of 4 brand new visitors. A couple of members of their church had been here before (quite a while ago), but there was really only ‘intellectual’ knowledge of the realities here from what they had read in books (and they had read plenty in preparation for this trip!). What they saw and experienced first hand here seemed to create some frustrating conflicts in their minds in the realization that what seems, on the surface, such a basic thing – can be so ‘troublesome’ for all involved. For example: you need to teach 9th graders what they need to learn to be able to enter and be successful in High School – not just pass them on. If English and basic computer is a requirement to enter high school – then have a teacher capable of teaching those things. Don’t allow the teachers to check the box that says ‘pass’ unless they have actually taught the material and then only if they truly passed. So many things here set people up for failure.

And what can we realistically do about it? Nothing on a country wide scale. This is an issue like so many others that can only be rectified by a government that will acknowledge a problem and find the resources to deal with it.

The temporary solution in this case could be to find someone who can give Saturday workshops for 3 – 6 months. Not a teacher per se - but a tutor who can teach the basics to those wanting to go to high school. Offer it to all the 8th and 9th graders so when they enter 10th grade they won’t start out 10 steps behind the others and ultimately fail those two classes that first trimester. That kind of failure, that kind of struggle is often enough to motivate a student to just give up and quit school.

And the younger students who see the older students struggling might not even bother with 8th or 9th grade knowing that they will be in the same situation. And if that is the case… why even bother with 6th grade?

What an ugly cycle.

So we’re going to do some investigating. We plan to talk to the school board, the principal and the teachers in this community to find out what is really going on. Then the Pastoral Team, together with the assistance of the partner church, will try to find a solution for these students. We know where to find some tutors who are willing to trek out to the canton. And we know that the students will attend. We just want to make sure that our helping won’t step on the toes of the Ministry of Education so that they chose never to support these basic requirements in this community.

Here is another case where we see a huge inadequacy. The parents are upset but they don’t know how to go about demanding changes. Perhaps we can help with that, too. To help them learn how to raise their voices appropriately.

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