Right now, there is a crisis happening in Venezuela where basic needs are not being met. Over 70,000 Venezuelans are fleeing from Venezuela to Brazil and other surrounding countries. Parents are forced to abandon their children at orphanages in the hope to meet those children’s needs and many more are dying from malnutrition. Families are having to survive off of less than $11 a month while bottled water is selling for $3 a bottle. Another consequence of the crisis is that schools have closed. There is no where for children to go to get off the streets or receive an education.
The Jane and Aleksey Sinyagins Foundation (JAAS Foundation) is a non-profit organization whose goal is to reach children in underserved countries. Our vision is to give all children access to a free education. The JAAS Foundation has been working in Venezuela for the past few years providing free English education.
This year we have restarted our program in Mérida, Venezuela. Within English program we are not only teaching children English, but also engaging with the parents through a Whats-App group. Enrolled in the program that started up this past week are thirteen students ranging from 7 years old to 13 years old. This free educational program is allowing children to be off the streets and in a safe environment during the day. Program participants are also provided with a free snack!
The JAAS Foundation is working closely with teachers to help provide quality education to the students and meet certain goals in order to help them in the future. Some of these goals include speaking, reading, and writing in English, digital literacy, ability to understand different perspectives and cultures, being able to use technology, and using global resources. With these tools in the child’s toolboxes the hope is that it will not only bring success to the student but to the country as well. The JAAS Foundation uses grants to make sure that the students have access to computers and the internet. Even with the blackouts in Venezuela teachers are able to use the computers when the electricity is available in their lessons, and the rest of the time has hands on learning tools for the children. Some of these hands on learning tools include a model of a character to learn body parts.
The lead teacher has a wonderful idea of creating a puzzle-like aspect to the character so the students can place the body part back on the character when they hear the English word called out. As well as creating a booklet with the English letters that the students have colored in that will be bound together to create a class book. He does not only use what is on paper but he demonstrates and models Distance Teaching and Mobile Learning technology use by using DTML Games and showing them music and videos in English to help further their knowledge of the language and to visualize the culture of other countries.
Even with the hiccups and challenges found within the classroom due to the heat, electricity black outs, and unreliable internet services due to the blackouts. The teachers are willing to problem solve and create a safe-haven for learning, no matter what. One teacher wrote, “I almost regret when the class ended, the owner of the local even gave us fifteen extra minutes at the end of the class. I’m anxious to be there next Thursday.” The enthusiasm and excitement the teacher has for teaching these students is so valuable. The classes in Venezuela are not only giving hope for the future for the children, but hope for all of those involved.