David and Nancy Slinde Speaking at their "Sending Service"

Monday, November 24, 2014

La Paz Public School

The Minister of Education of El Salvador, Carlos Canjura, acknowledges that 3,300 of the 5,164 public schools are in bad condition. He describes the 3,300 as “not conditions of comprehensive schools, schools worthy of our children”. That’s 64% of the public schools in El Salvador that are not worthy for Salvadoran children. We have visited communities with brand new public schools built by the European Union and Taiwan that remain unopened due to the lack of operating funds. But more often we are invited to one of the 3,300 operating public schools finding leaking roofs, broken and cracked desk tops with other parts missing, small desks for big students, no desks for smaller students, no text books, no lighting, no white boards, and no windows. Rest rooms often provide no protection or privacy for the female students and sanitary conditions that are better left to the imagination than describe here. Since 2011 we have been addressing these issues in 5 public schools. Our projects have provided many students with computer skills where we either supplied computers and/or build a room and/or installed electricity and air conditioning to protect the equipment. We have also provided roof repairs, windows, desks, concrete floors, lighting and text books. This has all been accomplished with donated funds. Our project partners built 3 class rooms in 2012 with seating space for 75 students in the new 7th, 8th and 9th grades. One year ago we furnished the seventh grade. During December and January, the Rotary District 6270 and the West Bend Rotary Clubs will be furnishing the eighth and ninth grade classrooms at a public school in La Paz, along with repairs to another building. New furnishings will include student desks, teacher’s desk and chair, white board and new text books. When school resumes in January, these students will be attending one of El Salvador’s most well equipped public schools. This success creates a dilemma. During registration just two weeks ago, the school is once again at capacity, unable to receive all the students of this rural community who want an education. The new challenge is how to meet the growing need to serve many with space limitations. On one trip home from El Salvador, we found this quote from Kofi Annan in the airline magazine. “Education is, quite simply, peace building by another name. It’s the most effective form of defense spending there is.” For the children and families of El Salvador, it is a call and opportunity that cannot be ignored. David y Nancy