El Paredón Secondary School
There was no secondary school in El Paredón despite a growing youth population where 70% of the community is under the age of 30. Secondary school students were forced to share the space of the local primary school, an unsuitable learning environment for older children.
The community identified the construction of a secondary school as a priority 25 years ago and in 2011 they petitioned the local government to make it happen. Plans were drawn up but there was no funding and the project was sidelined. The petition was brought to La Choza Chula’s attention in 2012 and we started contacting potential funders and volunteer organisations to make the school a reality.
Since 2014, La Choza Chula has been working with Surf for Life, a non-profit organisation based in America, to help realise the locally identified needs of the community. Surf for Life recruited nine groups of volunteers to come to El Paredón between October 2014 and April 2015 to work alongside the team of local builders to construct the secondary school.
In April 2015, the school opened its doors to students and learning began. There are three classrooms, an office, bathrooms and a storeroom with further space to create more innovative education projects such as a permaculture garden and carpentry workspace.
To ensure the professional development of all teachers in El Paredón, La Choza Chula began a new partnership with Teachers2TeachersInternational – a non-profit organisation who run regular maths, science and technology focused teacher training. The training focuses on how to teach these subjects in a more engaging and locally relevant way, often using recycled materials to create educational resources and raising awareness of local environmental issues in the process. The municipality head of education has visited the workshops and is now organising for all 400 teachers in the district to attend.
School Director – José Luis Valladares Montarroso
Now we have the new secondary school we can work separately from the primary school, allowing us to focus on our projects. The classrooms are better ventilated and are lighter. It has allowed us to improve the quality of education. We now have space to do vocational projects as well.
School Committee Member – Santos Corado Senteno
It is a pleasure to see the secondary school there. As a representative of the community I want to thank you all for your efforts and hard work in making it a reality. It has brought something special to the community, and a huge benefit to the children
Student – Dany, 13 years old
Now we have our own school. Before, we couldn’t do our own projects in the school. It’s much cooler in the new school and we can study without distraction and there is more free space to play our sports.