Despite steady progress over the years, Nicaragua’s education sector fares poorly compared to other countries in the region. According to the World Bank’s latest country-level poverty assessment, Nicaragua has the highest pupil-teacher ratio (in both primary and secondary) and the least qualified teacher workforce in Latin America.
Access to school is limited by supply and affordability constraints. Distances to schools are oftentimes too far and the demand for schooling exceeds the supply, causing overcrowding and inaccessibility. Today, only 1 of 5 kids in Nicaragua graduates from secondary school.
Problems are exacerbated in rural areas, which are characterized by a lack of trained teachers, basic learning infrastructure, and adequate pedagogical materials. Because of high poverty levels and insufficient public funding, “multi-grade schools” abound in rural Nicaragua. Teachers in such schools use one classroom to simultaneously teach students across different primary school grades.
While public education is free in Nicaragua, lack of money continues to be the most commonly cited reason for not attending school among poor families. Indirect costs – school supplies, uniforms, food, and transportation – are too steep for many rural parents and thus opt to send their children to work instead of school.
This is why ANF focuses its educational programs on reducing the indirect costs to education, thereby creating incentives for parents to send their children to school.
- Primary completion rate: 70% (World Bank, 2012)
- Net secondary enrollment rate: 42% (UNESCO, 2010)
- Secondary completion rate: 41% (World Bank, 2012)
- Total adult literacy rate: 78% (UNICEF, 2012)
What have we done?
Since its founding, ANF has:
- Distributed 978 containers of school supplies valued at US$98.78 million.
- Built 109 classrooms in rural communities.
- Established 7 computer labs benefiting about 4,000 students.
- Trained over 1,500 teachers in new teaching methodologies.
- Distributed 2,181 containers of food aid valued at US$77.67 million, representing 258 million meals.