“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” — Henry Ford
In Nicaragua, the academic school year starts in February and ends in December. Ron and I were invited to be a part of two graduation ceremonies this December. The first graduation ceremony took place at our La Paloma elementary school, which has 88 students, 4 teachers, and now the librarian that I hired for my library in the school.
The second graduation ceremony took place in Urbite High School, where our god-daughter graduated. The education statistics are frightful and the state of education in Nicaragua is and has been in crisis and stagnation for many years.
I can’t help but wonder where the graduates will go from here.
2014 statistics report that Nicaragua has 1,389,000 pupils enrolled in primary and secondary education. Of these pupils 940,000 (67%) are enrolled in primary education.
I wonder how many of these sweet children will enroll in secondary schools.
Compulsory education is one of the most effective ways of combating child labor. In Nicaragua, children are only required to attend school until age 12…and that is not enforced. Nicaragua was the last country in the region to sign up to the International Labor Organization, which aims to eradicate the worst forms of child labor by 2016. But, even as the government claims that their priority is eradicating child labor, their claims are not supported by any published evidence.
Data indicates that 18% of children of official primary ages 6-11 have never participated in the education system, and are missing out on the benefits of school.
Where are these children and why do they not attend school? If you have lived in Nicaragua for even a small length of time, chances are that you have encountered children selling wares on the chicken buses, at the bus stations, and near the tourist spots.
I wonder, what does the future hold for these lost children?
Nicaraguan teachers are the worst-paid professionals in Central America. The average teacher is living on the verge of poverty, often necessitating a second or third low paying job to support their families. In fact, the average teacher makes about half of a street vendor.
It makes me wonder why dedicated teachers stay in the profession.
2014 statistics show that only 9% of Nicaraguan students complete secondary school. it is notable that in the 15-24 age group, approximately 11% of youth have NO formal education and 26% of youth have attained at most an incomplete primary education. This means that 37% of 15-24 year olds have NOT completed primary school education in Nicaragua.
I was told that this year, the government forced all the teachers to promote and graduate all students, even if they were not ready. Countries that don’t educate their students to secondary level with a quality education don’t stand a chance.
I wonder, what is to become of their hopes and dreams. Are the obstacles insurmountable? Do they stand a chance in a competitive world?
What will happen to this beautiful little girl with dreams of becoming a professional dancer?
Will she be able to keep her eyes on her goals? Or will she drop out of school, get pregnant, like so many teenagers in Nicaragua, and live a life of poverty and broken dreams?
A lack of a quality education not only reduces a child’s chances, but their children’s chances as well. Failing this generation has a domino effect that will fail the next generation.
I hope this to be true for a few of the new graduates, particularly our god-daughter who has a lot of loving support.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss,