Capacity Building, education, Public Health, solidarity, Youth Development

Education in Times of Covid-19

Socially speaking, El Salvador was already deteriorating before COVID-19 hit, owing to rising rates of poverty and extreme poverty, the persistence of inequalities and growing social discontent. In this context, the pandemic was to inevitably have a profoundly negative impact on various social sectors, particularly public health and education.

Even before the pandemic, VOICES has been working with rural schools and families in an attempt to radically improve the culture of learning throughout these regions, by identifying and addressing major gaps in educational outcomes. Since the pandemic began, we’ve been supporting initiatives that deploy distance learning modalities through a variety of formats and platforms (both on and off-line), while also supporting the mobilization of education personnel and students and helping these institutions stay equipped with the necessary biomedical resources to ensure the overall well-being of students and their families.

Building a Dignified Learning Environment
Isla de Monte Cristo, Bahia del Jiquilisco
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In 1992, the Island of Monte Cristo was resettled by local farmers taking advantage of the postwar land transfer program. Today, the remote community contains acres of fruit trees, a handful of farming families, and hundreds of nesting birds.

Due to years of abandonment by both local and the national government, organizations like VOICES have been approached by local leaders to help them tackle specific issues like their lack of vital resources such as potable water and access to education.

Thanks in part to the generosity of South Bay Sanctuary Covenant, and the efforts of the islanders themselves in managing the logistics, the transportation of materials and the labor, their small school is in the middle of a complete makeover.

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Rural Mobile Technology Lab
Centro Escolar Amando Lopez, Bajo Lempa, Usulután
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The Mobile Tech Lab began in 2020, in response to the official closure of all Salvadoran educational institutions. Luckily for the kids, the Amando Lopez School staff have always been at the forefront of developing creative initiatives to entice students and keep communities learning.

The Lab is helping bridge the digital divide in the Bajo Lempa, by offering direct technology to students and computer skills to teachers. 112 students are currently taking part in the Lab, by attending in-person or virtual classes in communities Amando Lopez, La Canoa and 14th de Abril. The teaching staff continue to say that their goals are being accomplished through this program, goals such as keeping students and teachers connected, providing students the critical technological tools they need to succeed and strengthening the technical capabilities of the teachers.

It is also important to note that because of the school’s stringent biohealth approach, Amando Lopez has become a model for other institutions who wish to teach kids, during a global pandemic.

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Early Childhood Education Improvement
Bajo Lempa Preschools, Usulután
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Preschool teachers are critical agents of children’s social and emotional development, which in turn is a key predictor of their current and future academic and social success. Rural pre-schoools in El Salvador however are notorious for being left of the equation when it comes to government funding around paying dignified salaries, operational budgets, building infrastructures, etc.

For VOICES, it is important to support these institutions in their educational proceses by helping to supplement these shortcomings and offering them quality continuing education workshops with pedagogical professionals.

Recently, we worked with five different preschools in the Bajo Lempa to facilitate a series of highly interactive age and developmentally appropriate activities aimed at improving the methodological foundations of their curriculum and internal organizations.

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We want to reiterate our gratitude for our dear friends from South Bay Sanctuary Covenant of Northern California, St.John of God Church of San Francisco, the Carlos Rosario International school family in Washington D.C. and generous individuals and families who continue to understand the need for providing quality education in the middle of a pandemic. If it weren’t for each and everyone of you and the dedication and perseverance of our Salvadoran patterns, who knows how many bright young futures would be stifled and lost.

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COVID 19, education, human rights

Join our 3rd Webinar

Don’t miss out on our upcoming Webinar: COVID-19 and the Salvadoran Educational System

Click on the image to learn more

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.

COVID 19, education, youth, Youth Development

Moving with Purpose: Using Technology to Keep Kids in School

COVID-19 Prevention Protocol in English


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

Protocolo de la Prevención de COVID-19 en Español 

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Moviéndose con Propósito: El Uso de la Tecnología para Mantener el Alumnado en la Escuela

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.

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HAGA CLIC AQUÍ para aprender mas



COVID 19, education

Educación Rural en Tiempos de COVID-19

“A teacher affects eternity; he/she can never tell where his/her influence stops.”              -H.Adams


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.


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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:

  • ¿Con que nivel de aprendizaje llegaran nuestros estudiantes? 
  • ¿Habrán puesto en práctica las recomendaciones o indicaciones dada por el Docente?
  • ¿Estamos responsabilizarnos a nosotros mismos como maestros?

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.”

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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:

  1. Como fortalecer la cultura digital en nuestro personal docente que satisfaga las necesidades educativas del estudiantado, a través de la formación docente y la gestión de las herramientas tecnológicas que tenemos a nuestra disposición.
  2. Cómo prepararnos para la posibilidad de regresar a clases presenciales y lo que eso implica dado que todavía estamos en medio de una pandemia.
  3. Como apoyar gestiones para que se dote de herramientas tecnológicas y internet al 100% de estudiantes o comunidades.
  4. Como fortalecer la cultura de apoyo de padres y madres hacia sus hijos en materia de educativa.
  5. Como impulsar iniciativas tendientes a minimizar el impacto psicológico de la crisis en los estudiantes y comunidad educativa en general, que favorezca la práctica de valores morales y por ende la calidad de los aprendizajes.

Para enfrentar los desafíos antes mencionados, consideramos que como maestros del centro escolar tenemos las siguientes fortalezas:

  • La buena disposición del personal docente para la actualización en el uso de las herramientas tecnológicas y otras estrategias de trabajo en función del proceso de enseñanza aprendizaje.
  • Padres y madres de familia en su mayoría están preocupados por la continuidad del proceso educativo para sus hijos e hijas.
  • Nuestro centro escolar cuenta con Internet, gracias al apoyo de la Escuela Internacional Carlos Rosario de Washington, D.C. y ONG Voces en la Frontera.

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.

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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.

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Rural Education in Times of COVID-19

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.

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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:

  • What level of learning will our students arrive at?
  • Will they have put into practice the recommendations or indications given by the teacher?
  • Are we holding ourselves accountable as teachers?

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:

  1. How to strengthen the digital culture in our teaching staff that meets the educational needs of the student body, through teacher training and the management of technological tools that we have at our disposal.
  2. How to prepare ourselves for the possibility of returning to face-to-face classes and what that entails given that we are still in the middle of a pandemic.
  3. How to support the efforts to equip 100% of our students and their communities with technological tools and internet access.
  4. How to strengthen the culture of parental support towards their children’s education.
  5. How to promote initiatives aimed at minimizing the psychological impact of the crisis on students and the educational community in general, which favors the practice of moral values and therefore the quality of learning.

To meet the challenges aforementioned, we believe that as teachers we possess the following strengths:

  • The willingness to update the use of technological tools and other work strategies based on the teaching-learning process.
  • Most parents are concerned about the continuity of the educational process for their sons and daughters.
  • Our school has Internet, thanks to the support of the Carlos Rosario International School in Washington, D.C. and Voices on the Border.

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.

education, women & girls

Continuing Education for the Special Needs Teacher

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.”

education, youth

School Transportation in the Bajo Lempa

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Students bus in from neighboring communities to attend classes at the primary school of our partner community Amando Lopez. Before 2014, many parents and guardians were comfortable enough sending kids to school on their own but that all changed after a wave of violence struck the Bajo Lempa. These communities reached out to VOICES, and with the help from the South Bay Sanctuary Covenant group- we began to finance a safe and free school transportation system which has led to an improvement of school retention in the Bajo Lempa.