Learning Equality and Shoulder to Shoulder Para Los Niños visited Las Marias primary school that sits at the bottom of a very narrow, steep and rocky road on the outskirts of the small town, Santa Lucia. Our purpose was to see what progress they had made with the application of Kolibri to a primary school with 74 students. The school has three classrooms but only the two teachers. Grades 1-3 are in one class and 4-6 in the other. The third room was a computer lab that held several non-working computers collecting dust. It is now set up to be a functional learning lab with tablets and Kolibri servers.
This school was selected by one of our volunteers, Grace Twohig in early 2018. She thought it would be valuable to get some experience with a primary school outside of our bilingual school in Camasca, which the only primary school was using Kolibri in that time. There was proof that Kolibri was undoubtedly valuable in the seven surrounding high schools, but could teachers with less training and students who have never touched technology have success with Kolibri? Working with the trusted education director of Santa Lucia, Luis, he directed us to Las Marias, which was both extremely resource-poor but also had hardworking teachers and a united and involved parents association.
The Male teacher, Efrain, has some previous experience in informatics. There was no hesitation in him – he was thrilled at the opportunity we described. He did not have any experience using computers. Even that to upload their school’s information to the national education platform, they used to paid somebody because their computer knowledge was very little. The Female teacher, Edy, was apprehensive at first. She told us that she had never used a computer before, not even a smartphone. However, she decided that “I will learn because I want this for my kids”. We are thankful we bet on them because she has.
It is now one year since we introduced the first servers and tablets to their school. Their process is to teach a grade in their respective classrooms and then send the students over to the lab to work independently on pre-assigned work that is on the tablets. Since there are only the two teachers, there is no supervision in this lab except perhaps a look in, occasionally. While we were visiting, the students streamed in and all tried to log on their tablets but none of them could. Without much fanfare, one of the students went up and turned on the router and everyone immediately got to work. Everything was quiet until the students began to finish and there was some show to the others that they were already finished.
These two teachers solved this by working extra time after the end of the school day, plus weekends and even on a picnic to create this mapping and embed it in their Kolibri lesson structure. They are completely ready for next year! This is not only great for this school, but we will collect these lessons and make it the standard for the other primary schools in Southern Intibuca. It’s truly impressive that this school that has so little is doing so much – not only for their students but for all the other schools in the area!
The teachers further commented that they have a deaf/mute student that taught himself to get on Kolibri and is doing quite well learning. Many videos also have subtitles which can be turned on which is really great for this kid. Also, the students want to come to school and are excited to learn. This is all the great things that can be accomplished with teachers who are willing to be the change for a family, community and the Country as a whole. Happy teacher’s day!!