From April 15 to April 18, 2019, DevTech presented a panel session on the Community Action for Reading and Security (CARS) Activity at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference that took place in San Francisco.

The purpose of the CARS activity is to (a) improve early grade reading outcomes and (b) contribute to reducing citizen insecurity in five municipalities in the Southern Autonomous Caribbean Coast Region (Región Autónoma de la Costa Caribe Sur - RACCS) and three municipalities of the Northern Autonomous Caribbean Coast Region (Región Autónoma Costa Caribe Norte - RACCN) of Nicaragua. The eight municipalities include: Bluefields, Kukra Hill, Pearl Lagoon, Corn Island, Desembocadura de Rio Grande, Waspam, Prinzapolka and Puerto Cabezas.

Three papers were presented at the panel. The first paper presented the contextual information needed to introduce the interventions being conducted under CARS. Because the RACCN and RACCS are regions in Nicaragua that do not mirror those of the overall country, it is of most importance to provide a background of the area, its people, and their challenges. With limited data previously collected and much less material developed for young learners, the data and literacy rates background are crucial in contextualizing the work being performed by CARS.

The second paper presented our community approach to working with at-risk students in non-formal education. In response to the growing literacy gaps in RACCN and RACCS, CARS implemented the “Spaces to Grow” (Espacios para Crecer- EpCs) intervention, serving the most at-risk students. EpCs were created as a response to limited resources for students lagging on reading levels in RACCN and RACCS in comparison to their peers in mainland Nicaragua. This intervention was introduced as an accelerated after-school program to provide at-risk students with the tools they needed to achieve success in formal schooling.

The third paper described our steps moving forward and current research conducted in RACCN and RACCS. Keeping in mind CARS’ interest in knowledge generation and management, CARS developed a study focusing on Prinzapolka reading performance for students in first to third grade to inform and facilitate decision-making for implementation actions and projects aimed at meeting the current demand for services of quality in the municipality. Data for this project was collected at the end of 2017 on information related to reading performance, nutritional status of children, and socio-educational information of families. The study’s aim was to provide a clear picture of the current condition of the population of Prinzapolka and propose actions to improve both the educational condition and of the security of the communities where the project intervenes.

For more information on CARS, please see the project page here.