In a recent meeting with parents from Las Palmeras, we were in a long debate about how to move forward with our project now that the school we created together is a registered public pre-school and primary school with two teachers hired and paid by the Ministry of Education.
One idea was to include an Alma teacher in the regular school day in order to train the state teachers to use Alma strategies to improve the impact of their teaching, while also using the Las Palmeras school as a pilot to test Alma’s methodology within the state-mandated curriculum. The idea is complicated but has a long term focus on the quality of instruction in the school.
A second, and more simple, the idea was to have Alma implement an afterschool computer skills project; meaning we would have to equip the school with computers for the children to use.
In most of my experience, parents would go for the second idea. On one hand, there is a material benefit to the school through the computers. On the other, children who have no access to computers would learn the basic skills needed in a higher learning or professional setting along with the critical/creative thinking skills and academic reinforcement within fun cultural activities typical of all Alma projects. But the parents opted for the first idea, and their reasoning was clear:
“We need to ensure high-quality instruction within the regular school day first so that our children learn to analyze, evaluate, and use the academics they learn. We will worry about additional skills like computers once we know our school is the best school it can be.”
I was surprised with their decision, and thrilled that after years of working together, the community members in Las Palmeras are still prioritizing the quality of education, even if it means holding off on other enticing opportunities!
Ian McGroarty, Program Director