Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Shame of Education on Roatan

I realized something after posting my last blog about school starting soon...some of you may be new readers or may not have seen my blogs from a year ago concerning Honduran schools, so let me share a few interesting facts with you.

Despite being a very poor country, Honduran schools require students to wear uniforms, including proper black dress shoes, or they cannot attend school. That's right. Never mind that these families cannot even keep food on their tables, if they can't afford uniforms, their children aren't going to school.

The public schools are tuition free, however, everything else must be purchased. The schools are often in terrible condition; many lack bathrooms! Yes!! Can you imagine? A brand new school has been built in Sandy Bay, to replace the dilapidated beach school, but it has no furniture and no bathrooms. I don't know how they will function when school begins in a few weeks. Perhaps they'll use some of the crummy furniture from the beach, but they still won't have enough to furnish all the classrooms.

The public school teachers get paid whether they show up or not, and they often don't show up. The children will be sent home if the teacher doesn't come to work. An island mother was telling me that her child's teacher came daily for 3 months and then disappeared for 2 months only to reappear for a month or so. Difficult to learn anything when your teacher disappears and you don't have school for weeks or months at a time.

The teachers do not have to have advanced education or degrees. They do have to be high school graduates.

The children here often drop out of school by the end of 3rd grade. Some will complete 6th grade. Their math skills are sadly lacking. They are not equipped to do much more than menial labor.

The public schools on Roatan do not even teach English, despite the fact that most islanders speak English (well, a patois), that this island's economy is based on tourism, and that most of our visitors speak English. To get a job working with tourists, English is not only helpful but often essential. We have more and more families from the mainland of Honduras moving here to escape the grinding poverty of the mainland, hoping to find work (some do, some don't) and these people usually speak only Spanish.

The Honduran schools are in session from mid-February to early November. They then take a 3 month winter holiday (which is rainy season here). Most schools are small, so children go in shifts - morning, afternoon and even evening. I have seen small children walking home from school in the dark.

For all of these reasons and more, we decided to intervene in the lives of some of the children who attend our church in Sandy Bay. Two years ago, we and a Canadian couple, Larry and Susan, decided to send some of these kids to a private bilingual school. We began with 3 which quickly grew into 6. We were amazed at how quickly they learned English and how excited they were to learn everything!
Last year, we sent 11 students to this school. Susan, Don and I have the privilege of working with these kids in the afternoons, helping them with homework and additional English lessons. Our kids go to school from 7 a.m. until noon. They then freely and gladly come down to church in the afternoon to receive extra help!

All 11 of these kids have sponsors who cover their tuition, registration fees and exam fees which amounts to $700-$760 per child. Our family sponsors 3 of them. We would love to do more, but cannot. Most of these children have other needs to be met, which I detailed in my last blog, and which adds an additional expense of $500+ per child. That is a lot for one person to cover, but many small donations can quickly add up. That's why we are hoping that many of you will be persuaded to help. You will seldom find a better use for your money.

Our pastor has generously offered us the use of his PayPal account to facilitate the sending of donations to Roatan. If you would like to help, please use the link below, fill out the information so we know who is sending it and be sure to indicate in the memo section that your donation is for the sponsored kids. If you want to specify a particular child or need, we will honor that. This is a charitable contribution; you will receive a receipt for your taxes next January.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and thank you to all of you who will respond.


PayPal link -

1 comment:

  1. Jeanette I love your blog and maybe I should do one for my family in Africia. If Mom and I was not helping a family in Africa I would jump on your bandwagon. Caring about others less fortunate must run in the family. Sending my love to you and Don and I am so proud of what you guys are doing. Bruce and I are not getting to where you live but we will be in Costa Rico and Panamal City very soon.