There is no instruction manual or guide for being good fathers and mothers, but through the Community Action for Reading and Security (CARS) Activity, which is implemented by DevTech Systems, USAID has developed accompaniment and training work for parents and caretakers through monthly gatherings called the “Parents’ Schools” (EPM). In the past nine months, 5,000 people have participated in the EPMs in Nicaragua’s Caribbean region.
The idea of the Parents’ Schools is to provide a place where families share and exchange knowledge and experiences to strengthen their child-raising practices and, above all, become more involved in their children’s process of learning to read. Issues that are discussed in the EPMs include the importance of children’s education, the rights of children, the importance of communication in the family, gender violence, and trafficking.
EPMs in Action
Aracely Castillo Rivas is the mother of Loany and Alondra, both of whom are studying in the third level of preschool. Alondra has a moderate psycho-motor disability. Although the little community school in Sahsa, North Caribbean, opened its doors to her and four other children with disabilities, the teacher couldn’t attend them as they needed, as she also has 40 other students in her classroom. Recognizing this, Aracely has gotten involved and now directly supports the education of her two children in the classroom.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to even finish primary school,” said Aracely Castillo. “My family was very poor and we changed our community every year. That’s why my husband (a farmer) and I have proposed that our children have a better future. We’re also learning in the EPMs how we can improve our children’s education and security.”
Silvia Mena is the teacher who works with Aracely’s children. She admires and is grateful for this mother’s support. “Aracely is a very special mother. She walks more than 30 minutes to bring her children to class, then stays to support me all morning, not just attending to her daughter Alondra, but also helping with the other children,” explains the teacher. “She participates in everything and is the first to show up at the EPMs developed in the school.”
This year, Aracely, together with other parents and caregivers of the students in Sasha’s school, have participated in training about the transition from preschool to primary, where they learned to develop very simple and fun learning activities in reading and writing with their children.