Through the EFA Program (Education for All), Honduras has committed to achieving a minimum yield of 70 percent in the subjects of math and Spanish for 2015. According to the latest academic performance report, the average percentage yield in Spanish (reading) achieved significant progress in relation to EFA goal (65.6% in 2013), since the percentage of students in the satisfactory level has decreased in all grades compared to evaluations made in previous years. While it is true that there is an improvement in educational performance, there are still challenges to overcome especially those related to writing. Riecken’s work in Honduras will help maintain the achieved goal in the Spanish standard performance, but it will also have a special focus on writing and how this type of learning can impact civil society.
Public education has important shortcomings; especially in rural areas. This is one of the many reasons why Riecken established libraries in these types of communities. The low academic achievement and high dropout rates are a direct result of lack of qualified teachers, which is most evident in the performance of students in the areas of math or Spanish. The Secretary of Education of the Government of Honduras strives to reverse that reality. Riecken is also tackling the problem. Our network of community libraries offer enormous support to local governments and educational authorities in terms of access to information, educational materials, teacher´s training sessions, and an open space where local organizations can meet.
One of the goals of Riecken’s community libraries is to democratize the access to information and reduce the digital gap in rural communities. This is done by offering free access to internet and technology, especially computers, and the different activities that libraries carry out to promote their use. Since 2013, six community libraries of the Riecken network are driving the Beyond Click initiative, whose main objective is promoting the use of technology in the learning process of students, at the collective level (use in school activities in the classroom), and individual level (self-learning).
To this end, teachers are trained in educational tools. They plan how and when to use the resources (Spanish, mathematics, science, etc.). Emphasis on the use of technology was made in the organization of group activities (school projects or webquest), led by the teacher. The initiative Beyond Click is a small step for the quality of education in Honduras,. This initiative seeks to improve learning and school performance of the students in the beneficiary communities, especially in math and Spanish, through the introduction of technology, including free access to the internet and educational resources. So far, more than 90 public school teachers have been trained on using the technology in the best possible way to support their classes and keep track of the students´ progress. During these initial months, teachers have leveled their initial computer knowledge; many of them lost their fear of using technology, office and educational programs. Given the essential skills that teachers had in the area of computing, a training curriculum was structured around computing and the internet (web resources), emphasizing the use of social networks and application of digital educational resources. Social networks like YouTube and Facebook are being used as small virtual classrooms, through closed groups to weigh in on topics that the same teacher decides to discuss and rate, reinforcing the classes.
Teachers are also using resources for the classroom and educational platforms such as Khan Academy, as well as a platform that allows creating a collective knowledge with students (webquest). For the evaluation of the student´s progress, the training focused on the computer system of the Secretary of Education: School Management System (SACE. http://sace.se.gob.hn/).
“We are already working with students of School José C. del Valle on computer! We are all very happy with the news. Very willing parents have supported the purchase of equipment for the Internet.”
Prof. Roxana Mondragon, School José Cecilio del Valle, community of Cuyali, shares her happiness in the Facebook group created by teachers participating in the Project.
In the first half of 2014, more than 97,000 people accessed technology through 65 community libraries Riecken, of which 57,000 used the internet as a tool to access information. The 6 communities in Honduras that are promoting the educational technology Project are:
Biblioteca Flor del Saber Francisco Morazan (Flor del Campo Tegucigalpa), Biblioteca Luz del Saber (Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Cortés), Biblioteca Diamante de Sabiduría (Jacaleapa, El Paraíso), Biblioteca comunitaria Fuente del Saber (Cuyalí, El Paraíso), Biblioteca Riecken de Tatumbla (Tatumbla, Francisco Morazán), Biblioteca “Manatial del Saber” (San Juan Planes, Copán), and Biblioteca Popular Riecken (Yorito, Yoro). With financial support from Foundation Strachan, South Peninsula Jewish Teen Foundation (JPTF), SG Foundation, Peterson Foundation and Adrian Ridner.