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"Remote" learning in Ubu...- news 1

Recently we received news and updates from the other side of the world, a place where simply getting to school requires a trek on horseback or by boat. Reyna, a student, sent us her story and we also received news from the distance learning programme at the Msgr. Salvador Schlaefer Education Centre in Ubu (north-eastern Nicaragua) for young people who want to attend secondary school to become better primary school teachers and better serve others.

Ubu is so difficult to find in Nicaragua that the only way to get there is by using these coordinates: 12° 47’ north latitude and 85°07’ west longitude! The population density is 20 inhabitants per km2. The climate is tropical, with an average rainfall of between 2,400 and 3,000 mm per year!

For the past three years, the Msgr. Salvador Schlaefer Education Centre has been kept afloat by the Christ the King Parish because the government of Nicaragua decided to withdraw its support for teaching positions! Since that time, everyone has joined forces to assist the centre: parents have agreed to pay higher registration and tuition fees; the municipality as well as the vicariate are supporting the project by paying two teachers' salaries and certain teachers have agreed to offer their services free of charge. The parish is seeking other sources of national or international assistance. Unable to bring itself to abandon the services it provides to the young people of the region, it decided to develop a distance learning program. The parish priest, Fernando Israël Zamora Silva, and three members of the Community of the Company of Mary Our Lady, Pili, Rufina and Brinda, are devoted to continuing to serve the poorest families, which have been ignored by the government in terms of both health care and education.


Enrolment in 2014

- First year of secondary school:   26 students  including 16 girls
- Second year of secondary school:  16 students  including 10 girls
- Third year of secondary school:  17 students  including 10 girls
- Fourth year of secondary school:  25 students  including 15 girls
- Fifth year of secondary school:  26 students  including 17 girls

Total:  110 students  including 68 girls.

These students range in age from 12 to 38 years old. They come from 21 different villages.

Courses are held in the local parish facilities: two parish rooms, two corridors and the garage!

None of the primary school teachers even finished secondary school because state-run schools prioritise political training over professional training for teachers.


The Centre decided to focus on distance learning (with courses held every two weeks and individual homework for students) due to the immense difficulty of travelling to the Centre. (See more project information on the site's home page.)


We have also focused on training teachers to enable them to provide a Christian Humanist education. Personal training is a primary objective. That is why a library was opened in order to provide a place for students to carry out their own research and in-depth study.


But it is important to note that those who are involved in this service want to continue to seek out resources so that young people can take an active role in building their future and a more humane, fairer society by allowing them to go to school and receive a high-quality education on a human, intellectual and spiritual level, which is so essential for young people nowadays. This will allow them to live what the Book of Proverbs explains: 'Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.'



'I am 33 years old. For the past five years, I have been a student at the Msgr. Salvador Schlaefer Institute. I am currently in my eleventh year of studies. They teach us about love and courage. We learn how to be kinder and to live in harmony with each other. We have formed close friendships with our classmates and teachers. We respect the rights and the dignity of others. Here, we learn how to live with others.

This institute is so valuable in this region, where state-run schools do not offer a high-quality education to their students. In our institute, a large number of young Catholics and non-Catholics come every two weeks to attend classes.

Like many of my classmates, I wanted to study in this centre because of the quality of the training and the human and professional skills of our teachers, even though I am a single mother and I am struggling to find work. Every day I have to find a way to feed my son, go to school and to do something with my life, to prepare myself on a professional level to serve my village and my country.

Over the past five years of studies, I've seen how well-prepared my teachers are and how much they contribute to developing these programmes and how involved they are in preparing their courses, with the support they receive from the Company of Mary and training to become better teachers. They have a lot of responsibilities as well as solidarity, honesty and good relationships with students and pupils.

As a member of this educational community, I feel that the Centre should continue to move forward in its training to continually provide a better human, spiritual and moral education for the young people who so need it. This will help to prevent any increase in delinquency, bad habits and the poor treatment of the most vulnerable members of our society, especially women and children.

As a woman, I am grateful for the education that this centre has offered, which has done so much good for students from every sector, of every colour and of every political and religious ideology. I feel that we have received a good education and support from the teachers and the Company of Mary on a local level, as well as from the priest. They have done an excellent job with the spiritual and intellectual education they have provided to us as young Nicaraguans.'

In Ubu Norte, Paiwas municipality, in the Southern Coastal Caribbean Region of Nicaragua (RACCS),

22 October 2014,

Reyna Isabelle Amador López, student