2020 has been a whirlwind year and we want to share it with you.
Click Here or below to read our latest annual report.
2020 has been a whirlwind year and we want to share it with you.
Click Here or below to read our latest annual report.
Don’t miss out on our upcoming Webinar: COVID-19 and the Salvadoran Educational System
Around the world teachers and students are being asked to make a lot of changes, in order to overcome the obstacles placed on them due to COVID-19 restrictions. In El Salvador, school will not resume until 2021. We will conversate with three educational professionals, on the front lines, and hear about the reality of the educational system, their opinions and their efforts to reach as many young people as possible in order to avoid mass desertion of students.
We will stream on our FacebookLive page, however, if you require interpretation you must register by clicking here.
El Salvador’s public school students, both rural and urban, are facing an uncertain academic future due to COVID-19. As institutional disorganization at a national level leads to essential services, like education, becoming too complicated for communities to maneuver, at the same time, the Ministry of Education expects teachers, who have had very little experience with technology, to learn said technology on their own and teach via digital platforms to students who themselves often times cannot afford internet to access these platforms.
The Centro Escolar Amando Lopez Technology Lab is an inter-institutional initiative to connect teachers and students with the technology they need to advance in their academic goals. While we are confident that MINED will eventually achieve coherent policies and practices, we also recognize the current threat of mass retention and desertion looming over the country’s schools located in more marginalized regions.
This week we concluded our program and staff development as well as community orientations. Next Tuesday (7/28) the program begins!
In the end, we hope that this project can be an example of how to run a rural mobile technology lab, both during and after a pandemic.
CLICK HERE to learn more
Lxs estudiantes de escuelas públicas de El Salvador, tanto rurales como urbanos, enfrentan un futuro académico incierto debido a COVID-19. Por la desorganización institucional a nivel nacional, los servicios esenciales, como la educación, se vuelven demasiado complicados para que las comunidades puedan gestionar y, al mismo tiempo, el Ministerio de Educación espera que la facultad de la escuelas, que tienen muy poca experiencia con la tecnología, aprendan dicha tecnología por su cuenta y enseñar a través de plataformas digitales a estudiantes, pero ellxs mismxs muchas veces no pueden pagar por internet para acceder a estas plataformas.
El Laboratorio Tecnológico del Centro Escolar Amando López es una iniciativa interinstitucional para conectar a maestrxs y estudiantes con la tecnología que necesitan para avanzar en sus objetivos académicos. Si bien confiamos en que MINED finalmente logrará políticas y prácticas coherentes, también reconocemos la amenaza actual de retención y deserción masiva, que se cierne sobre las escuelas del país ubicadas en regiones más marginadas.
Esta semana, concluimos nuestras reuniones de desarrollo del programa y de personal, así como las orientaciones de la comunidad. ¡El próximo martes (28/7) comienza el programa!
A fin de cuentas, esperamos que este proyecto pueda ser un ejemplo de cómo ejecutar un laboratorio educativo rural, tanto durante como después de una pandemia.
HAGA CLIC AQUÍ para aprender mas
Hoy, honramos a nuestros maestros, tanto populares como formales. Qué mejor manera de hacerlo que escuchando su realidad, sus luchas y sus esperanzas. A continuación compartimos las historias de tres increíbles educadores de una zona rural de El Salvador.
Desde el momento en que se emitió el decreto de emergencia por COVID-19 en marzo, creímos que el rumbo de la educación no cambiaría, que serían solamente unos días los que estaríamos sin estar en nuestra institución educativa, pero no fue así, cada día de fue complicando la situación.
En los primeros días lo vimos normal, solo nos(MINED) dijeron que preparáramos unas guía para unos 15 días y que buscáramos los me medios para hacerlas llegar a nuestros estudiantes. De ahí que comienza nuestro gran desafío: el cómo.
Hay que ser honesto que muchos docentes su gran limitante es el uso de la tecnología, y de ahí que algunos colegas no encontraban la forma de hacerlo. Eventualmente, se rompió esa barrera, gracias al hecho de que dentro de nuestro personal tenemos dos Licenciados en Informática, y un centro de cómputo que cumple con las condiciones mínimas. Así pudimos ayudar algunos compañeros a buscar los mejores medios de comunicación con nuestros estudiantes, también creamos grupos de WhatsApp, subimos las guías a nuestro sitio web y imprimimos algunas para entregárselas a los estudiantes que no tienen ningún acceso a la tecnología.
Ahora, una vez que los estudiantes tenían sus libros de trabajo, surgió el siguiente gran problema: cómo esos estudiantes podían entregar su trabajo y a tiempo. Algunos estudiantes, especialmente los de primer año, nunca han usado, y mucho menos crearon una cuenta de correo electrónico. O algunos no saben cómo convertir sus archivos de trabajo en formatos que sean fáciles de enviar. Muchos estudiantes se quejan de que no pueden completar sus tareas porque no tienen acceso a las computadoras todos juntos.
Todo esto podemos sumar, que en nuestra sociedad no hay una cultura del uso de la tecnología de una forma adecuada, ni una buena orientación de que aplicaciones son útiles para que a los estudiantes les facilite mejor hacer sus tareas.
Como Docente de informática, yo creo que el gran reto que tenemos hoy es abrir esa brecha digital y orientar a nuestros estudiantes para que hagan un buen uso del recurso tecnológico con el que cuentan.
Durante los próximos meses, nuestro futuro educativo se encuentra en una etapa incierta, y a partir de ahí debemos hacernos una serie de preguntas:
Y así podemos hacernos muchas preguntas, para llegar a la conclusión que estamos en un sistema que tanto el estudiante como el docente no estábamos o no estamos preparados para enfrentar estas pandemias o crisis. Nos están capacitando en el uso de plataformas en línea y esperan que migremos nuestra cultura educativa a una digital, casi de la noche a la mañana. En lugar de alentar sus esperanzas, este cambio ha llevado a un gran número de maestros y estudiantes a vivir con incertidumbre.
Al enfrentar un futuro impredecible para la educación, nos recuerdan las palabras que un gran filósofo dijo una vez: “Sé que no sé nada.”
La Pandemia generada por el COVID-19 ha sorprendió a todo los estratos de la vida en todo el mundo. En nuestro país El Salvador, dadas las condiciones de desigualdad y pobreza se ha tenido que improvisar en todas las esferas, las acciones para hacer frente a dicha Pandemia.
En lo que concierne a la educación, de igual manera se han improvisado acciones para contribuir a la continuidad a los aprendizajes del estudiantado en general.
Algunas de estas acciones están encaminadas a fortalecer la comunicación telefónica con padres y estudiantes para dar orientaciones específicas. Se han entregado guías de trabajo en físico a cada estudiante, y en el caso de mi asignatura, matemáticas, existe un libro de texto y un cuaderno de trabajo para cada estudiante. Se han formado y fortalecido grupos en WatsApp con estudiantes y padres para las orientaciones pertinentes, y en algunos casos se gravan videos cortos explicando algún contenido y se envía según la necesidad. A pesar de estos logros, es importante mencionar que hay un buen grupo de estudiantes cuya familia no cuenta con teléfono inteligente mucho menos con computadora e internet, mucho menos energía eléctrica.
Debido a que nuestra escuela Amando López está situada en una zona 100% rural del país conocida como Bajo Lempa, hoy enfrentamos los siguientes desafíos:
Para enfrentar los desafíos antes mencionados, consideramos que como maestros del centro escolar tenemos las siguientes fortalezas:
Esta coyuntura dejará muchos aprendizajes y lecciones para la comunidad educativa incluyendo personal docente. Los padres y madres ahorita están valorando de mejor manera la importancia de la educación de sus hijos/as. Los docentes han realizado la necesidad de actualización profesional, el uso adecuado de herramientas tecnológicas y otras estrategias para el proceso educativo. Finalmente, una gran mejora que estamos viendo es que la vida familiar se ha fortalecido y con ello la manifestación de los valores humanos.
Debido a COVID-19, hemos iniciado una nueva forma de enseñar a los estudiantes por y mi experiencia personal como maestra desde marzo no ha sido fácil al principio de adaptarme a esta nueva realidad. Pero, junto a mis compañeros iniciamos las visitas domiciliarias para empezar un nuevo proceso educativo con los estudiantes padres y madres de familia.
El proceso de enseñanza-aprendizaje cambió totalmente, pues no se ha permitido el contacto físico con la comunidad educativa, entonces tuvimos que cambiar la estrategia para enseñar las sesiones de la clase. He creado un grupo de WhatsApp con estudiantes y padres que utilizo para enviar digitalmente guías educativas o coordinar entregas impresas. Cuando trabajo con mis alumnos durante las visitas ocasionales a la casa, siempre sigo las medidas sanitarias, como el uso de una máscara, gel de alcohol y siempre manteniendo mi distancia.
Otro factor importante que hemos tenido muy en cuenta es el papel de la familia, es decir, el padre y la madre también están enseñando en casa con guías educativas bien explicadas, lo que a su vez nos ayuda a mejorar nuestra enseñanza.
Hoy todos los maestros reciben clases de internet en Google classroom, también yo estoy actualizando mis conocimientos pero lamentablemente no cuenta con una computadora personal pero de alguna forma espero en el futuro obtener una. Como maestros, hemos creado un grupo asesor para ayudarse mutuamente y resolver las dudas con respecto a la orientación familiar.Aunque pensamos que no estábamos preparados para esta difícil tarea de impartir clases a través de las redes sociales, poco a poco nos estamos entrenando en el camino.
En cuanto a la esperanza en el futuro en materia educativa, me gustaría volver a las aulas y poder enseñarles a los estudiantes presencial pero está difícil. Ojala y pronto termine este virus para poder retornar a las escuelas. Sería bueno clausurar por lo menos el año lectivo, y esperemos que en septiembre volvamos nuevamente.
Me gustaría agradecer a los donantes por su apoyo a nuestra escuela y a mí personalmente, especialmente en estos tiempos difíciles, esta ayuda ha sido extremadamente importante.
Today, we honor our teachers, both Popular and Formal. What better way to do so than by listening to their reality, their struggles and their hopes. Below we share the stories of Dore, Flora and Maria, three amazing educators from rural El Salvador.
From the moment that the emergency decree becasue of COVID19 was issued in March, we believed that the direction of education would not change, that it would only be a few days of no class, but this hasn’t been the case and each day the situation becomes more complicated.
For the first few days it was normal, MINED simply told us to prepare our teaching guides for 15 days and to find ways to send them to our students. Hence our great challenge begins: the how.
It’s necessary to be honest, for many teachers, their greatest limitation is in the use of technology, meaning some colleagues couldn’t find a way to take that first step. Eventually, that barrier was broken, thanks to the fact that within our staff we have two Computer Science graduates, and a computer center that meets the minimum requirements. We were able to help those technologically challenged colleagues to find the best means of communication with our students, we also created WhatsApp groups, we uploaded the guides to our school website and we printed some to deliver to students who don’t have any access to technology.
Now, once the students had their guides the next big problem arose: how those students could hand in their work and on time. Some students, especially freshman, have never used, let alone created an email account. Or some don’t know how to convert their work-files into formats that are easy to send. Many students complain that they can’t complete their assignments because they don’t have access to computers all together.
We can chalk all this up to the fact that in our society there isn’t a culture of the adequate use of technology, nor a good orientation of which applications are useful for students to make it easier to do their homework.
As a computer teacher, I think that this is a great challenge, the need to widen that digital gap and guide our students to make good use of the technological resources they have.
Over the next few months, our educational future will be uncertain, so we must ask ourselves a series of questions:
From these questions, we’re able to reach the solemn conclusion that, as students and teachers, we are in a system that hasn’t prepared us to face these types of pandemics or crises.
They are training us in the use of online platforms and expecting us to migrate our educational cutlture into a digital one, almost overnight. Instead of encouraging their hopes, this change has lead a large number of teachers and students to live with uncertainty.
As we face an unpredictable future for education we are reminded by the words a great philosopher once spoke: “I know that I know nothing.”
The pandemic generated by COVID-19 has surprised all strata of life around the world. In our country El Salvador, given the conditions of inequality and poverty, it has been necessary to improvise in all aspects of life, our actions to face this pandemic.
With regard to education, our actions have also been improvised in order to contribute to the overall continuity of student learning.
Some of these actions are aimed at strengthening telephone communication with parents and students to give specific guidance. Physical work guides have been delivered to each student, and in the case of my subject, mathematics, there is a textbook and a workbook for each student. Groups have been formed and strengthened using WhatsApp with students and parents for relevant orientations, and in some cases short videos explaining some content are recorded and sent as needed. Despite these achievements, it is important to mention that there are a lot of students whose family’s do not have a smartphone, a computer with Internet, much less electricity.
Because our school is located in a 100% rural area of the country known as Bajo Lempa, today we face the following challenges:
To meet the challenges aforementioned, we believe that as teachers we possess the following strengths:
This situation will no doubt create many new lessons for the educational community including the teaching staff. Parents, now more than ever, are greatly appreciating the importance of education. Teachers have realized the need for professionally updating their knowledge of technological tools and other strategies for the educational process. Finally, a huge improvement we are seeing is that family life is being strengthened and with it the manifestation of human values.
Due to COVID-19, we instituted a new way of teaching students since March and personally it has not been easy for me to adapt to this new reality. However, together with my colleagues, we began making home visits to embark on a new educational journey with students and parents.
The teaching-learning process changed completely, since physical contact with the educational community has not been allowed, we have had to change our strategies to teach our classes. I have created a WhatsApp group with students and parents which I use to digitally send educational guides or coordinate print deliveries. When working with my students through the occasional house-visit, I always follow sanitary measures, like the use of a mask, alcohol gel and always keeping my distance.
Another important factor that we have taken very much into account is the role of the family, that is to say, the father and mother are also teaching at home with well-explained educational guides, which in turn helps us improve our teaching.
Currently, all teachers are receiving via internet training in the use of Google classroom. I am also updating my digital knowledge but unfortunately I don’t have a personal computer though somehow I hope to get one in the future. As a school, we created an advisory group to help one another and resolve any doubts regarding home teaching. Even thought we were not prepared for this difficult challenge to teach via social networks, little by little we are training ourselves along the way.
I hope very soon to get back into the classroom and to be able to teach the students in person, but this is difficult right now. Hopefully soon this virus will pass and we will be able to return to our schools. It would be good to close out at least the school year, hopefully by September we will return again.
I would like to thank the donors for their support of our school and for me personally, especially in these difficult times, this help has been extremely important.
March 19, 2020
El Salvador, like many countries around the world, is reeling from the effects of COVID19. To clamp down on the spread of the virus, on March 15th, the government declared a state of emergency and approved a partial suspension of constitutional rights. What does that look like?
On March 18th, El Salvador registered it’s first single confirmed case of the virus, from a Salvadoran returning from Italy, who defied the barrier the President put in place around the perimeter of the country. Because of citizen denouncements, he was picked up and tested positive for the virus and subsequently the entire municipality of Metapan, in the department of Santa Ana has been cordoned off for the next 48 hours in an effort to find his line of infection.
Impacts on the Salvadoran Society
The majority of the population has reacted with panic, no matter how many calls for calm are made. Supermarkets are crowded and supplies are beginning to become scarce, partly because there is hoarding and price inflations. For example in some places bottled water is selling for three times its normal price.
Bukele has said that the department of labor will do what it can to make sure employers and workers are economically supported during the quarantine, but every hour labor abuses are being called out via social media of workers being indiscriminately laid, off, mistreated or made to work when they aren’t supposed to.
The sectors most economically impacted by this national quarantine are the service industry, domestic workers, day laborers, street vendors, factory and sweatshop workers. Also affected are those Salvadoran families who already live in El Salvador’s precarious situation of water shortage. For young girls and women who face abuse at home, the situation of isolation becomes even more serious. It encourages victim control and greater submission of the victim.
Impacts on VOICES’ work
VOICES, like other NGOs, is having to adapt to these measures. For example, this situation forced us to cancel the annual South Bay Sanctuary Covenant delegation this March, as well as suspend the special delegation of teachers from Amando López to the United States in April.
Likewise, the SBSC fundraising event scheduled for April 26 in California, at which our director was to speak, was canceled.
Also with the suspension of classes the reproduction phase of the ECHO project workshops in Morazán is on hold; likewise, some community activities, workshops and meetings.
It’s safe to say that human rights don’t simply go away because of a national quarantine, and neither will VOICES’ commitment to accompanying our local partners as best as we can. As an organization, VOICES’ staff are adhering to the rules put in place by working from home.
This involves catching up on programming materials and fine tuning our evaluation frameworks, but we are also finding other ways to support our partners in the following ways:
Women’s Network of Morazán (9 municipalities served)
– Providing 15 canasta basicas for the Network’s most vulnerable members and their families.
Amando Lopez grade school (9 communities served)
– While some students may enjoy the meal provided by the school, other families may see it as a lifeline. The school’s staff compiled a list of 88 students who are most at risk from malnutrition and we will work with them to find the best way to help feed these kids during the quarantine.
Youth Development Association of Morazán (3 communities served)
– This inspiring youth group has had to cancel all of their programming including their special activities, community events, workshops and schools like their school of nutrition, which not only serves as a means to teach recipes, but also supports families’ ability to practice food sovereignty through the family farms component. We will work with AJUDEM to ensure that those most affected will have access to plants, seeds and compost to keep their farms growing.
El Salvador is a resilient country full of ingenuity and as long as we continue to practice true solidarity, we will all be able to come out of this pandemic with heads high and the prospect for a brighter more sustainable future.
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Maria is a popular education teacher in the Amando Lopez community grade school who VOICES is committed to supporting this year, by providing her with the living wage that she is not entitled to by the Ministry of Education because she lacks certain academic credentials.
Maria teaches Science, Health, Environment, Literature, Arts and Physical Education classes to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.
Maria’s days begin early.
She wakes up at 4AM to clean her home, wash dishes and prepare breakfast for her husband and 4 year old daughter Hazel. After she drops Hazel off at Preschool, she begins her own school day. At noon, she picks up Hazel and goes home to prepare lunch, rest in her hammock and if she’s not called on to be a substitute teacher for the afternoon session, she prepares for the following day of classes. At the end of the day she washes clothes and prepares dinner for everyone before going to bed around 10pm.
Maria is no stranger to hard work.
“I’ll always remember the summer before 9th grade, when my father told me that I wouldn’t be able to study because it was time for my younger siblings to start school. I felt really sad. I told him that I would pay my own way. That was the day I began working mornings with my brothers and father in the sugarcane fields. When we were done, I would run home as fast I could to wash up and get ready for my afternoon classes. After school I worked on my aunt’s chicken farm. That is how I put myself through high school.”
Increasing the quality of education in our partner communities continues to be of importance to VOICES. In recent years, we have supplemented teachers’ salaries, provided school transportation, covered operational expenses, provided small scholarships for high school students and continuing education courses for teachers.
Last year, VOICES’ board members were so impressed by Maria’s commitment to teach that we were compelled to make a commitment of our own. Since Maria doesn’t officially show up on the school’s roster, they can only pay her $100 per month.
Maria’s goal is to get her teacher’s license through a distance learning program offered by the National University of El Salvador (UES). Supplementing Maria’s salary will allow her to support her family, afford the costs involved in her coursework and assure a brighter future.
Visit http://www.votb.org/donate to help make Maria’s dream a reality.
ECHO El Salvador has expanded it’s reach and is wrapping up its first training session for educators and health promoters in the department of Morazán.
With the help of a great local coordination team and support from from both the ministry of health and education, we were able to compile an impressive list of participants who have been coming together every saturday to receive the training courses from the team of experts from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
We learned a lot from our work down in the Bajo Lempa which prompted us make some changes to the program here in the East. For example, during our Morazán conscription, we made sure to invite not only teachers but their directors as well, so that once the training is over the school teams will have an easier time planning and replicating the classes in their respective institutions.
We also hope to have greater success with local capacitation in the communities, which is why we invited Daniel Perez, Morazán’s health promoter supervisor, to attend this first training session. Not only did he accept but has also offered to assist us in the coordination and monitoring of his team once they are on the ground and imparting classes.
In the Bajo Lempa, we trained 60 participants from six different communities and in Morazán, a total of 75 participants from 16 municipalities will receive training.
Stay tuned to see their progress.
This past summer was full of really exciting visits. The El Salvador staff traveled to the U.S. to take part in the annual board meeting in Maryland, and two delegations visited us here in El Salvador. The first was an awesome group of young chess coaches and the second was a wonderfully dedicated group of staff from the renowned Carlos Rosario International adult charter school in Washington, D.C.
This marks the fourth year the group has come to explore, learn and exchange with the people of El Salvador. Recently, they have focused on creating an intentional partnership with the Amando Lopez community school in the Bajo Lempa. The reason the delegates come is not only to increase the cultural awareness they possess for Salvadorans, a population that makes up the majority of their students back home; but also to be able to exchange knowledge with the educators and leaders of the communities that they visit.
They held meetings with inspiring groups working on youth development, women’s empowerment, LGBTQ rights, and environmental justice. They traveled to Morazán and learned about the history while listening to hopeful opinions about a peaceful future.
In the Bajo Lempa, they facilitated various workshops with the educators and community members on topics such as Self-care in the classroom, reading techniques, the risks of social media, among others. They themselves received workshops in turn from the community’s school staff which you can see more of below in the video.
We want to extend our gratitude to the people behind the scenes who made this an unforgettable delegation, and to those who made donations to rural education throughout the various campaigns. With this money, the Amando Lopez school will improve infrastructure, purchase necessary teaching material, musical instruments and fix school computers.
Until Next Year!
Remember AJUDEM, that awesome and hardworking youth group in Morazán that serves numerous communities of Ciudad Segundo Montes and in the mountains bordering Honduras?
Well, VOICES recently signed a new contract with them to support their programs, that we believe contribute to a culture of learning, well-being and non-violence that is desperately needed in the regions we serve.
Below, you can see how one of their programs, the School of Nutrition, plays an important role in the lives of the youth and their families.
Below, Mabel Barrera, the special needs classroom teacher in the Bajo Lempa shares her experience attending the specialization course “Educational Care for Children with Learning Difficulties” offered by the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas (UCA).
“Al principio me sentía un poco nerviosa ya que es primera experiencia de formación formal, ya había escuchado que la UCA es una universidad muy exigente y pensé que en un primer momento no iba a poder cumplir todas las exigencias. Pero la experiencia empírica durante los años que he trabajado me facilito el proceso de aprendizaje, me ha permitido aprender sobre la teoría del trabajo que yo realizó en el aula de apoyo, también a conocer a maestras de otras partes del país quienes también trabajan en la misma área de la enseñanza, además a significado un esfuerzo físico y familiar ya que para tomar las clases me iba un día antes pero vale la pena ya que me he empoderado en las metodologías para mejor mi enseñanza. Agradezco a Voces en la Frontera y estoy segura que en el futuro va ser importante para mejorar el trabajo que realizó con niños y niñas de las comunidades.”
“At first I felt a bit nervous as this is my first formal training experience, I had already heard that the UCA is a very demanding university and I thought that at first I was not going to be able to fulfill all the demands. But the empirical experience during the years that I have worked facilitated the learning process, it allowed me to learn about the theory behind the work I do in the special needs classroom, and has also allowed me to meet teachers from other parts of the country who also work in the same area of teaching. In addition to meaning a physical and family effort since to take the classes I travel (to San Salvador) the day before, still it is worth it since I have empowered myself in the methodologies to better my teaching. I thank Voices on the Border and I am sure that in the future this will be important step to improving the work done with children from the communities.”