There are several common occurrences in public education in Honduras … frequent teacher strikes, government delays in salaries for teachers, frequent ‘days off’ of school for silly reasons. However, the most egregious of situations to me is the ‘pay to pass’ concept.
Reach Out Honduras assists several public middle school students as well as several private high school students. (The only high school possibility is private here.) The public students are constantly asked to bring money. Mind you, we live in a horribly poor area where most cannot afford enough food for even 2 meals per day, forget the idea of special projects.
The worst example of this culminated just this last weekend. Our friend, Mery Luz, is a single mother of 2 children. Her eldest daughter has cerebral palsy and is completely unable to function on her own. Mery Luz works with us in the afternoons – helping in a myraid of ways. It is a joy to be able to offer her a job for a few hours each weekday.
This year, Mery Luz (24 years old) decided to go back to school. She started where she left off as a girl – 7th grade. She goes to school on the weekends. Reach Out Honduras, our non-profit, helped pay for her uniform and school supplies.
Recently, Mery Luz told us how her teachers have mandated that each student bring money for a new chalkboard. The next week, they ordered money for curtains. And so on. Mery Luz has absolutely no extra in her budget. Reach Out Honduras is not going to pay money for these types of things.
This last weekend, Mery Luz was not permitted to take her exams because she had not paid any of these ‘extras’ required by her teachers. She is stubborn and isn’t going to back down. Will this cost her a year’s worth of education? It is a difficult thing to allow to happen. And yet, to pay is to acquiesce to this ridiculous corrupt idea of scholarship.
All of this simply points us to a greater need for some type of school that eager students without means can attend. A place where students do not have to worry about the integrity of their teachers. A place where education is not gained by bribery and corruption.
Reach Out Honduras works hard to ensure that orphans and vulnerable children in La Mosquitia can move forward in education. Consistent public education ends in 9th grade. We have 6 students sponsored attending private high school for 2011 & 2012. Additionally, there are 4 students from La Mosquitia attending Leadership University, with the help of Reach Out Honduras.
In 2011, Reach Out Honduras provided school supplies, uniforms and shoes to over 40 orphans and needy children.
Our long-term dream is for a private, Christian high school where interested poor students have an opportunity to further their academic pursuits. Join us in prayer over this God-sized matter.