Fabretto’s Rural Secondary Education Program (Sistema Aprendizaje Tutorial): Increasing Economic & Educational Opportunities for Rural Nicaraguan Youth

Project location: NICARAGUA, Las Sabanas and Somoto
Project start date: June 2017 - Project end date: December 2017
Project number: 2017-024
Beneficiary: Fundacion Fabretto

The overall objective of the project is to provide secondary and technical training to over 700 youth in rural areas of Nicaragua. This will enable students to find or create their own jobs, avoiding migration and improving the economic overall situation of their communities.

In Nicaragua, over 60% of the population living in rural communities survives on less than $1.25 per day. Addressing poverty in these communities requires investment in quality secondary and technical education programs that can empower young men and women as leaders and problem solvers.

In 2007, Fabretto began to tackle the problem by re-imagining secondary education in Nicaragua’s rural communities via Sistema Aprendizaje Tutorial (known as SAT), a rural technical education program that serves as an alternative to traditional high school. It is an official program accredited by the Ministry of Education in combination with  technical vocational training certified by the INATEC (National Technological Institute).

Access to secondary education in Nicaragua is often limited by location and/or affordability. With no degree or training, youth living in rural communities either continue the subsistence income-generating practices of their families or migrate to more urban areas in search of minimum wage employment. Because migrants are typically ambitious youth who have the ability to acquire skills and put them to use, migration depletes communities’ most valuable human capital, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty

The program is offered within communities, eliminating youth’s need to traverse long distances to public schools in urban areas and offers a complete 5 year high school degree and or shorter technical professional courses, accredited by the National Institute for Technical Education. SAT tutors educate youth in five subjects:
a)    agriculture,
b)    science,
c)    mathematics,
d)    communication, and
e)    community service;

Training is delivered by SAT tutors, who serve as both teachers and mentors to youth, first instructing them on textbook material and then providing assistance on leadership and entrepreneurship, during practical exercises. Youth might apply their lessons in writing, horticulture, and math by planting a garden, designing a business plan, and selling the produce

The objectives of the proposed project are to:
1) Increase access to a quality secondary education for rural Nicaraguan youth.
2) Prepare rural Nicaraguan youth to: (a) pursue further education, (b) generate an income through meaningful employment or by starting their own business, and/or (c) implement improved agricultural methods on their farms.

Fabretto anticipates that of the 700 students that are currently participating in the SAT program:

1)    75% of those who graduate will be planning to further their education, engage in enterprise, and/or secure meaningful employment.
2)    85% will continue enrolled
3)    85% will pass on to the next year of study (promotion rate)

This project received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation.

Result show that most of the SAT students (80%) are self-employed or are working in rural cooperatives improving the efficiency of the latter thanks to new agricultural and management techniques learnt in SAT. Graduates have pursued university degrees in engineering and business, started small businesses in coffee farming, chicken farming, and beekeeping, and in cases returned to be trained as program SAT tutors.

This success provides further evidence of the program’s ability to transform rural education in developing countries. The SAT model, created by a Colombian NGO in 1974, is also being successfully implemented by other NGOs in Honduras, Ecuador, and Guatemala. Research performed by the Brookings Institute claims that SAT, in its 40+ year history, has benefitted over 300,000 youth in Latin America.

The program has decreased migration to urban areas in the communities where it is implemented and has increased the number of youth who finishes their secondary education.  Fabretto is confident that this program is directly improving the economic perspective of Nicaragua by providing a better future for many students and their communities.

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