“Quality of Education Doesn’t Matter” was a headline in an article in the Guardian describing the state of education in Mexico. According to the article Mexico ranks last in education among the 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Mexican children leave school with the worst literacy, math and science skills. The poorest children in Vietnam outperform the most privileged in Mexico.
Volcanes is one of the poorest colonias (suburbs) in Puerto Vallarta but the people have formed a very close and co-operative community around the after-school project for their kids. Volcanes is less than a 30-minute drive from the golden beaches and beautiful living conditions we enjoy here.
Volcanes’s government-run elementary school is meant to have English-speaking teachers to teach English. It doesn’t. It should have a computer class. It doesn’t. It should have a reading and writing intervention class to help students who are behind. It doesn’t. It should have a library. It doesn’t. Who cares?
Well, the Director of the school does and so does the community. Eight years ago, in 2011, a joint effort between the Volcanes Parents Association, the staff and Director of the elementary school, local government leaders and someone who just wants to help Mexican kids, Art Fumerton, resulted in the creation of the Volcanes Community Education Project (VCEP) and now it is thriving.
VCEP was given free access to an old, derelict school building with five small classrooms. Fund raising by Art Fumerton and voluntary work by members of the Volcanes community saw the installation of windows, flooring, fans and electrical outlets in the classrooms, sinks and toilets in the toilets, grass and trees in the dirt outside.
Now, after much more fundraising and volunteer help, VCEP offers “after-school” help to over 400 children a week (The elementary school double-shifts like many Mexican schools with shifts going from 7:00 to 1:00 and 2:00 to 8:00)
VCEP employs five full-time teachers, including one who helps kids achieve their grade level in writing; the computer lab has twenty laptops for the students in grades three through twelve; Internet is available in all classrooms; English is taught by English speaking teachers from grades two through twelve and there is a well-stocked library. VCEP teachers and the elementary school staff co-ordinate closely in deciding the programs needed.
All of these tremendous results have been achieved without any government financing. All costs are met by donations from local businesses and help from readers like you. The International Friendship Club (IFC) has been supporting VCEP since its earliest days by helping with teachers’ salaries. If you would like to give a hand up to a child who just wants a decent education you can. Please click on http://www.volcanesproject.com/want-to-help/becas-sponsorship-of-a-child-s-education. $300USD a year, or less than a dollar a day (tax-deductible in Canada), can change a child’s life without changing yours. The quality of education DOES matter!