Due to generational poverty and low education, most teens are viewed as adults and, thus, are expected to contribute to household income. It is also common for girls to start having children in their teens. Teens continuing on to secondary school are often the first in their families to do so and must contend with cultural and familial expectations that encourage students to leave school once they attain literacy.
School expenses like fees, uniforms and supplies are expensive. Since families are typically large, parents often cannot afford school costs for all of their children. Typically they send their children to school until they can read and write and then remove them.
Teens are generally unaware of the different career options available in Nicaragua. They do not understand the benefits associated with different careers or how to comport themselves in a professional environment, both of which can severely limit their career potential.
The program focus is the holistic development of the teen into a successful adult using an intensive, hands-on approach. Each teen, and his/her family, will receive emotional, social and academic support on a continuous basis. The teens are given program ownership opportunities and leadership roles, with coaching available as needed.
How It Works:
Our program provides school supplies and fees for teens, thus removing the basic material barrier to education.
Each teen in secondary school is regularly visited in their home, in order to build trust and confidence between E.I. staff and family members. The home visit program focuses on mentoring parents to value education. We try to give parents and teens the tools to eliminate problems in the home that act as barriers to education. Group sessions, classes, and counseling are offered to help teen program members make better choices about sex, drugs and alcohol, and gangs.
Secondary school and university students are introduced to various job opportunities available in Nicaragua. Local business owners and successful professionals are regularly invited to talk with teens about their jobs. The goal of this initiative is to enable secondary school students to make informed career choices and to understand the technical and vocational training required in each field.
Secondary school students tutor primary school children on a volunteer basis. This program started in 2009 on a small scale. Two years later, we have 30 secondary school students tutoring 80 children K-Grade 4 each day. This program has boosted both the performance of the younger children and the self-esteem of the teens. This is one example of EI enabling community members to build their own future.