Reforming Education in NicaraguaReforming education in Nicaragua has been a major focus of rehabilitation efforts over the past few years. Prior to 2015, there were over 800,000 people who were unable to read or write in Nicaragua. Because of the educational barriers that exist in the country, many students were kept from remaining enrolled at their schools or building the necessary confidence to pursue an education. However, over the past five years, Nicaragua’s Ministry of Education (MINED) has worked hard to create superior learning institutions so that Nicaraguan children can have a more accessible, comfortable and innovative education.

The Public Education System

Nicaragua is considered the most impoverished country in Central America. With the unemployment rate rising over 3% in the past five years, the government decided to implement concrete policies that could create enough incentives to keep people enrolled in school and pull them out of poverty.

In Nicaragua, education is not equally accessible to all, even though primary education is compulsory. The government has not yet found the necessary tools to instigate accessible community action and counter the factors that keep students from enrolling in primary or secondary education. Moreover, the struggle to enroll students is not the only obstacle the government faces as over 70% of Nicaraguan children drop out of school before they reach the sixth grade.

Un Ministerio en la Comunidad

The Ministry of Education has been working to improve its participation in society. The ministry’s motto is “un ministerio en la comunidad”, which is Spanish for “a ministry in the community”. The language employed suggests the active role MINED wants to establish in Nicaraguan society, including reforming education in Nicaragua.

In 2017, the government redirected approximately 4% of the entire national GDP to MINED. The repairs that have been done since then directly benefit countless public schools, especially in terms of providing better study conditions to the many children that go to these.

In 2020 alone there have been four reform initiatives focusing on infrastructure reconstruction, student hygiene and health, drug awareness and increasing disability awareness within school institutions and curriculum.

 Initiatives Taken by MINED

  1. Special Education Curriculum Strengthening: For many students with mental and physical disabilities, the traditional classroom setting and curriculum can be overly challenging and discouraging. Because of that many students are left hopeless and unable to learn, making it nearly impossible for them to get a job that pays a livable wage in the future. In February of 2020,  special education directors from Managua to Chontales met and discussed how to implement styling, cooking and music courses into their school curriculum so that disabled students can better adapt to school and to the job market.
  2. My Life Without Drugs Program: Drug use and addiction are one of the leading culprits of high school dropouts, leading many young Nicaraguans to stay in poverty for their entire lives. The Miguel Ramírez Goyena Institute held a drug awareness discussion in March of 2020 for grades nine to eleven, covering the kinds of drugs that are prominent in their community and teaching the students points of prevention.
  3. COVID-19 Health and Hygiene: MINED started as early as March 30 with COVID-19-focused prevention workshops. There have been several health and hygiene panels held to reinforce the awareness of COVID-19 and how to prevent it by washing hands, wearing facial coverings and social distancing students and staff. In addition to that, the Ministry put effort into bringing the digital wave to Nicaragua. According to the official data released, MINED created 23 mobile digital classrooms that help low-income students and educators alike have access to equipment such as tablets, printers, projectors and printers.
  4. Bertha Díaz Educational Center: On July 10, the reconstruction of the Bertha Díaz Educational Center in Managua advanced by 60%. The improved space exhibits a new roof, electrical system and 12 reworked classrooms. The project has taken five million córdobas or $143,856. MINED hopes to have the entire project done by the end of the summer so that the center is up and running for students in the fall.

What’s the Next Step?

The Nicaraguan government has a powerful Ministry of Education that is taking the broken Nicaraguan infrastructure by the horns and pushing full force for a brighter future for the young population. Out of the 6.1 million people living in Nicaragua, 40% of citizens are under the age of 15. Children are the future of Nicaragua and MINED knows that. Each week, new efforts are pushed by those in power towards reforming education in Nicaragua to help bring students to the top of their educational and mental potential. Additional financial support from outside nations will only help bolster the potential for Nicaragua’s students and allow the country to work its way out of poverty.

– Nicolettea Daskaloudi
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in AlgeriaAlgeria is a country in North Africa with Mediterranean coastline and an interior of the Saharan desert. Over the years, the education quality in Algeria has been improving and statistics show more girls are graduating with university diplomas. While the recent reforms have been an improvement, more work is needed to improve girls’ education in Algeria.

The Algerian Education System

The education system is divided into a nine-year primary foundation school, followed by a three-year secondary and then university level. Algerian education is still focused on the French philosophy of fact-acquisition, and instruction is almost entirely in the form of lecture and memorization. As of 2015, there are 92 post-secondary institutions in Algeria including 48 universities.

Past Statistics of Algerian Students

Back in 1996, the ministry reported 15,426 state primary schools with 4,674,947 students, 46% of which were girls. There were 3,038 middle schools, which were for children 7 to 9 years of age, with 1,762,761 students, only 38% of whom were girls. This led to less than 50% of female citizens getting university degrees during the time. According to CountryMeters, in 2016, the literacy rate for the adult male population is 87.17%, or 14,318,494 men; literacy rate for the adult female population is 73.13%, or 11,949,007 women. Literate females made up around 14% less than the literate male population.

Recent Statistics of Algerian Students

Statistics of graduate Algerian women have been more than men since the late 2000’s. In 2011 and 2012, around 60% of the 1,090,592 students on track to graduate from Algerian universities were females. Ever since then, recorded data shows a positive trend of girls obtaining their university degrees. In 2018, Algeria reported that 64.46% female residents have graduated from universities in the country. There are currently no recent updates on the literacy levels of Algerians.

Education Reforms

Recently, Algeria has made education mandatory and free of charge for all children from age 6 to 15. Also, the British Council works in collaboration with the Algerian Ministry of National Education (MoNE) to support their joint focus on improving education. This is a continuous project that began in 2016. As a result, 40,000 teachers have been recruited each year for Algeria schools. In addition, the project focuses on addressing leadership and ensures the quality of the education system.

Due to this project, in 2018, approximately 596,000 students took the BEM, or the intermediate school certificate examination. The average score was 56.9 percent, which was up from 56.3 percent in 2017. The positive statistics ultimately led to the increased percentage of female university graduates in 2018.

The amount of females graduating and obtaining a university degree are gradually increasing each year. Since 1996, there has been more than a 10% increase in the amount of females graduating from a college. On top of that, the quality of the Algerian education system is slowly improving each year, and the government is encouraging all young girls to attend primary school.

– Megan Ha
Photo: LH4