Costa Rica School 2012

Raleigh has now finished the building of a school of Costa Rica funded by the Myles Robinson Memorial Trust and the pictures on the right show the group who worked on it and the plaque that will go on the building. It is hoped that the Trust will fund the building of another school in 2013.

Costa Rica’s 24 indigenous reservations cover a total of 400,000 hectares, approximately seven percent of the national territory, and the nearly 64,000 members of the different groups make up just under 1.5 percent of the population of 4.3 million.

The 2012 project will be located in the Chirripó Indigenous territory which is found on the Caribbean slope of the Talamancan mountain range. Chirripó is one of the remotest areas in Costa Rica with some communities several days walk from the nearest road head. The name of the community is Duchari, located on the north-west side of the Chirripo River – 4 hours walk from the nearest road. The community is spread out over the mountain side in tropical rainforest.

Working in partnership with the local indigenous development association, Raleigh International intends to improve the infrastructure for the delivery of educational facilities in Costa Rica’s indigenous territory. Currently indigenous children have the poorest access to educational facilities in the country. Many live too far away from the nearest school to attend and those that do have a nearby school receive education in falling down shacks or ‘ranchitos’. The school buildings that do exist are often inappropriate with holes in the roof and mud floors are common. A major problem is the sheer remoteness of the communities being several hours walk from the nearest road over rugged mountainous terrain. Children often walk up to two hours just to attend school before walking another 2 hours home. For the teachers walking over five hours to reach a school is just about manageable in the dry season but often impossible in the rainy season when rivers become swollen and landslides common.

There are not enough primary schools in the indigenous territories with the teachers often making do, teaching in very basic huts. Without primary education the territories cannot develop the young students who will eventually become the teachers of the next generation. The teaching of their local languages and culture is an important part of both primary and secondary educations in indigenous territories. Indeed in some cases the survival of the indigenous languages depends on its teaching in schools.

At Duchari there are currently 40 students registered at the primary school, however there is no actual school building and instead they receive their education in a basic hut with leaves as a roof. The school is often flooded out when it rains and is inappropriate for the teachers to give their classes – hence the need for a new school building.

The planning and coordination of the project will be undertaken in partnership between Raleigh International, the development associations, the schools and the Ministry of Education. All the project partners hold regular meetings throughout the planning, implementation and evaluation stages. Raleigh International will be responsible for the final reporting and evaluation of the project. Planning permissions for the projects are obtained through negotiation with the owners of the terrain, the community and the development associations. The project will be managed on the ground by community leaders in partnership with Raleigh International volunteer staff members.

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