Lent 2021 newsletter
Rick Dixon, El Salvador
Since schools went into virtual learning a year ago, public education in El Salvador has gotten very expensive. “Education has become privatized,” our parish priest, Father Luis Coto, said at the beginning of this school year, which started February 1.
People pay internet companies $10 to 15 a month so their kids can navigate online —and depending on how many kids you have, it can be even more expensive. Most people in La Esperanza earn $5 a day, if they’re lucky.
As a result, many kids had to drop out of classes last year, but this year our library has a free internet signal for the community, which has been very well received and used. Only two weeks into the new school year, we’ve made 500 photo copies and have logged dozens of hours of internet use. All this thanks to Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ COVID-19 relief fund.
Two of our young people, Luis Miguel and Jonathon, are in charge of the computer lab. They are also busy teaching kids how to use computers and helping them with their homework.
Luis Miguel has a technical degree in computer systems (from the university), and his dream is to become a systems engineer. Jonathon is in his second year of high school and wants to be a doctor.
These may sound like reasonable expectation for a young person, but for youth in El Salvador, it’s like dreaming for a trip to Mars. The National University is saturated with thousands of applications each year, and most kids will be turned away; there simply is not enough capacity in the national system to receive the demand; and few people from La Esperanza can afford a private university education, which would cost approximately $5,000 for five years of study (equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the United States).
Yet we are helping kids like Luis Miguel and Jonathon see with new eyes, encouraging them to make their dreams come true thanks to programs such as our COVID relief fund and scholarship program.
Now a few more young people will be able to make that amazing journey.
Watch this short video of Rick talking about the computer lab: