Food For The Poor Partnership Transforms Schools in El Salvador
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (March 2, 2021) As many as 40,000 students in El Salvador will benefit from a major new initiative to transform 100 schools in the most vulnerable communities through a partnership between Food For The Poor and three other organizations.
Drug prevention education will be a major component of the program, aimed at teaching students the dangers of drugs that often are a gateway to gangs, addiction, destruction of the family and violence.
The goal is to turn the schools into Integral Centers for Coexistence and Social Cohesion in a multiyear effort to reduce migration, violence and high drop-out rates that plague the country.
Those actions will include:
- Training 100 principals and 2,000 teachers.
- Strengthening curriculum, focusing on literacy, English, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
- Renovating schools and providing furniture, computers, books and supplies to enhance students’ learning environment.
- Creating awareness among students, teachers and parents on the danger and negative effects of drug use.
- Providing extra-curricular activities to deter students from gangs, violence and drugs.
- Building a sense of community between schools and the municipalities through community activities.
“The lure of drugs in developing countries, just like in the U.S, is strong,” said longtime Food For The Poor donor Julie Schauer, who is passionate about drug prevention.
“However, once a child or adolescent begins using drugs, the hope for a brighter future vanishes,” she added. “Preventing the onset of drug use, before it can begin, ensures longer, more hopeful, happier and productive futures for the children of El Salvador.”
Food For The Poor’s partners in the project are FEPADE, the nonprofit Salvadoran Business Foundation for Educational Development; the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MINED); and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Under the partnership, USAID and FEPADE will oversee the $20 million project. To date, work on 24 schools with the greatest needs is under way — mainly roofs, floors, bathrooms, kitchens, food storage, dining areas and computer classrooms. Construction on 13 more schools is set to begin this month, thanks to Food For The Poor. MINED is providing funding to improve additional schools. FEPADE will carry out those projects in addition to providing training, curriculum and social activities in a targeted list of 100 schools.
Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine said education is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty by ensuring that schools, teachers and their communities have the proper tools and training to serve students.
“This project will unify the communities and provide a beacon of hope for thousands of children and their families who are struggling,” Raine said.
El Salvador has 5,200 public schools with many located in areas of extreme poverty with high incidents of violence. Many are challenged by poor infrastructure and a lack of resources and professional development available to teachers and principals.
Despite the country’s attempts to expand the school system over the last several decades, nearly 400,000 children ages 4 to 17 do not attend school due to poverty, violence or lack of family support.
Students often lose motivation for a better education, because they lack opportunities. As a result, many become involved with gangs as a means to survive.
In news reports announcing the launch of the project in 2018, a USAID official said quality education for youths is one of the best ways to reduce violence and prepare students for future success.
“At the same time, we know that education is not only the responsibility of the government or teachers, but of the whole of society,” Christopher Schaffer, director of USAID EL Salvador’s Office of Democracy and Governance, said at the time.
Although 100 schools are initially targeted, the drug prevention program may be expanded nationwide in El Salvador and possibly to neighboring Honduras and Guatemala.
“We’re forever grateful to our donors and partners for giving us the ability to do a large project that’s going to go deep into solving real problems,” Raine said. “The lives of thousands of children and their families will be positively changed.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned and abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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