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The San Jose Obrero school is located in Villa María del Triunfo, a very poor, rocky suburb south-east of Lima. Over a quarter of the population live without basic services. The district ranks amongst the highest in child and youth malnourishment. Domestic violence is a dire social issue in the community.
EDUCATION FOR LIFE is a corporate social responsibility program generously funded by Urban Systems Foundation and managed by Developing World Connections. This program ensures a higher quality of education in the interests of working children attending the school. It is now in its fourth year and continues to have profound impact on the children, teachers and the surrounding community.
The program supports the nutrition needed to enhance school performance, reliable transportation to get to and from school, specialized teacher training, youth rights, and personal and social development for students and their families. Meaningful engagement by students, faculty and parents continues to grow.
A group of local mothers were trained in nutrition and to oversee the preparation of school breakfasts. Children were selected for the breakfast program according to the socio-economic status of their household. In addition, children whose health assessments revealed anemia or risk for anemia also entered. Attendance to breakfast was high. Tardiness and absenteeism were minimal.
At the beginning of the program, 33% of children participating in the program were anemic. Testing for students after one year showed all were free of anaemia and improved their overall health, further highlighting the effectiveness of the nutrition aspect of the program.
A chartered bus is provided Monday to Friday so 65 children between three and 12 years old can participateregularly at school. Children and mothers highly value the school bus having experienced difficulty getting to school in bad weather or extreme hardship with the cost of public transportation services.
This measure has resulted in drastically improved attendance rates with students arriving punctually at school dry, clean and happy.
Teachers received training to improve the quality of education they deliver. This included new approaches to literacy, mathematics and children’s rights.
In the context in Villa Maria del Triunfo, teachers who were ill-equipped to deal with the stark realities of working in an impoverished community developed a deepened understanding of the importance of teaching with a rights focus to they could offer better support for their students.
Psychological service was provided with the aim to reduce the effects and rates of violence that children suffer. Students and their families received professional psychological support. These sessions addressed issues such as domestic violence, learning disorders, behaviour issues and mental health challenges.
Parent workshops were designed and held to strengthen family relationships. Student workshops covered teamwork, confidentiality, privacy, self worth, discrimination, bullying, and respect. Teachers reported marked improvements in performance at school.