COST OF PREPARING OUT-OF-SCHOOL CHILDREN
FOR A LIFE AMONG THE EDUCATED.
principal work involves contacting children who are not in
school. Persuading them to give up whatever they are doing,
if anything; if we will get them into school. When we have
the children's agreement we then make contact with their parents
[ normally there is only a mother, and not uncommonly the
child lives on the street.]. With the child and mother's consent;
we begin to educate the child in our own informal school.
It is staffed by a teacher and a teaching assistant, and is
visited regularly by a social worker and a Psychologist. What
we accomplish with roughly 80 percent of the children we recruit:
is to catch them up to the education level they would have
achieved had they been attending school for however many years
they have missed.The 20 % we are unable to bring up to the
level which will permit them to pass the entrance examine
to enter the National School system at the grade their age
pertains to: will remain with us until we either succeed in
bringing their learning skills up to their ad/grade; or else
until they have been with us for two years. At which time
we give them an informal certificate indicating the reading,
writing, maths and language skill level they have attained.
The majority of our schools are located in the most dangerous
barrios of the cities we are in. We have learned that if we
work only in the mornings, end the session with a nutritious
snack for the children (usually a sandwich, a high protean
drink and a piece of fruit); then we return to the city centre.
This is possible because the people who are dangerous normally
stay up late and sleep during the morning.
It costs 250 Euros for us to put a child into school after
only one term with us [note: most children require at least
- 195 nutritious snacks/meals,
- One teacher and one teaching assistant for up to 25 children.
- Part time of an social worker and Psychologist. - Staff
- More or less one change of clothes (a shirt, trousers and
shoes if they have none or
when theirs wear out).
- One new school uniform
- 1 School starter kit.
Once children are registered in school we visit them, under
the banner of a "Serendipity Club Meeting", once every 4 to
6 weeks. With the school's permission we have a celebration
type gathering where a clown or musician is usually present.
Educational games are played, giving the children an opportunity
to show off what they have learned. There are prizes for attendance,
the highest notes and the best behavior. The social worker
will already have met with the teachers of our children; and
will work the group throughout the gathering, discussing the
needs of each child; making appointments to visit the child
at home when the parent is present. And we give the children
lots of affection during these events. Because most of our
children live in harsh, unattended and frequently violent
environments. The love they received from us while they were
in our little schools is not repeated when they go to State
school, and so they would feel abandoned by us were we not
to come visit them on a regular basis. Clothes are passed
out at club meetings and the event ends with a small meal.
We remain responsible for each of our children's education,
and to some extent their medical condition; for two years
after we have gotten them into school. During this time we
will work with their parents or whoever is responsible for
a particular child: to get that person or people to share
the financial responsibility for the child's education. We
find that getting the parent to sacrifice for the child's
education is important later on; after we are no longer responsible.
Eighty five percent of the children we get into school are
still there after two years. During this time it costs us
40 Euros per child to keep supporting and encouraging them
to succeed in getting educated. This covers: -10 meals - Transport
to the Club Meetings - The part time services of a teacher,
social worker and Psychologist. plus one or two teaching assistants
- There will be some clothes and two new school uniforms per
year. - It may include some medical and dental attention.
- It will include registration fees and school materials.
We recently registered 820 more children in school, (for their
first time - or in many cases for the first time in years)
buying their uniforms and starter kits. We are also buying
uniforms and paying registration fees for many of the nearly
3,000 children we got into State Schools over the past three
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