GVI MONTHLY ACHIEVEMENT REPORT Quepos Community Development Program May 2014
On May 5, a national teachers strike began in Costa Rica. Approximately, 75,000 public school teachers joined forces and went on strike due to a large number not having received any or partial salary since the beginning of the 2014 school year. The strike began days prior to the inauguration of the current president Luis Guillermo Solis amid assurances from then-President Laura Chinchilla that the issue would soon be resolved. The issue at hand was due to a newly implemented payroll system which was not processing teacher’s pay correctly.
In the first week of the ‘huelga’; it was easy to empathize with the striking teachers. How could anyone be expected to work for months without being paid? Universally, teachers are far too often underpaid and underappreciated. It is common practice for teachers in Costa Rica to spend their own money on school supplies such as books and teaching materials.
The consequences for GVI’s Community Development Program was that from one day to the next the schools we work in would be empty, no teachers, no students with no indication of when classes might resume. Oddly enough the caretakers and school cooks were still expected to go to work as they are on a completely different payroll system and were not affected by the strike action.
GVI has been working in primary schools in the Quepos area for almost three years now and we have become accustomed to unpredictability and improvisation. The team knew that we could use this time to our advantage and for the children’s’ benefit. We joined forces and on a sunny Monday morning planned a full week’s worth of activities for ‘Huelga Camp’, which we ran in 2 locations.
The ‘Polideportivo Boquense’ a multi use sports area in the community of Boca Vieja is familiar territory as we run summer camp there every year during school vacations. The local kids and parents were only too happy to see us arrive with the usual mix of sports, arts and educational activities, everything from bowling to bracelet making.
We have recently been building a relationship with the primary school in the small town of Damas about 15 minutes outside of Quepos. We have been working with the English teacher and the sports teacher in Damas for the last few months and have been very pleased with the reception we have received from the Director, teachers and students. This was a perfect opportunity for GVI to show what we could offer and build stronger relationships with the children. ‘Huelga Camp’ in Damas was a great success with scavenger hunts, English based activities and of course a lot of football.
The volunteers enjoyed this time with the children because it gave them the opportunity to interact with the children outside of the more formalised structure of the school and it is also a lot of fun! In a surprising way the strike was quite enjoyable and productive time for the program.
The strike finally came to an end on the 5th of June, having lasted a full month! Congratulations to our volunteers for having the creativity to organise 4 weeks worth of fun and varied activities. Over the past week classes have settled back into a routine. The students and teachers are finally able to move forward with the curriculum and the GVI volunteers are relieved to be back in class supporting the teachers and students.
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