Summer 2021 newsletter
Larry Parr, El Salvador
Greetings from El Salvador! I hope this letter finds everyone well.
As things are starting to get back to normal in El Salvador, our students are still feeling the impact that the pandemic has had on the education system. Primary schools and high schools have returned to hybrid classes, but they still must do a lot of their work from home. Universities have yet to fully open, and all classes are still online.
Most students in Las Delicias do not have access to stable quality internet connection. This has had a tremendous impact on the lives of our students and has made it so much harder for young people from marginalized communities to get a quality education.
One of our educational programs that has been affected by the pandemic is the Dean Brackley tutoring program with the University of Central America. From 2015 until the start of the pandemic, we have sent hundreds of middle-school and high-school students from different communities to receive tutoring in Spanish, math, computers and formation from students at the university. Students get the support they need so they are able to better their grades and reach their goals. This program has allowed young people to leave their neighborhoods and imagine the possibility of studying in a university. Ten graduates of our program from Las Delicias have gone on to college, with many of them getting a scholarship.
Fortunately, in May we were able to restart this important program. We still are not able to bring the students to the university, but the tutors wanted to continue to provide help online. We also have a team of four college students from Las Delicias — all of them graduates of the program — who wanted to continue tutoring every Saturday and help out the younger students in their community.
The students now receive tutoring online every Saturday at our local community library, which has internet. They break up into small groups of two to four students and have both an online tutor from the university and an in-person tutor from the community. The tutors work as a team to help give the kids the support they need to succeed in school. Because of the limited access to the internet, we only have 16 students in the program this year but hope to return to being able to bring more students to the university next year.
Thanks to all of the donations and support, we have been able to continue this program and help kids reach their dreams of going to college and becoming professionals who can help to sustain their families. I am so proud of our college students who helped to organize the program with the university and are giving back to the next generation of students.
This was the idea of Dean Brackley, a U.S. Jesuit priest who came to El Salvador in 1990 to help continue the work of the six Jesuit priests, who together with two women had been assassinated at the University of Central America.
Father Brackley founded these tutoring programs in El Salvador to help educate future leaders that would normally not have an opportunity to go to college. The idea is that these young people work hard to better their communities and create opportunities for the next generation. Despite all of the difficulties during the pandemic, our students have shown their dedication to education and working for a more just and compassionate future for their community.