Technology Brings Love of Learning to Miskito Communities
Change for Children
Ivania Fiallos Cornejo teaches 2nd grade in an Indigenous Miskito community in the Bosawas region of Nicaragua – one of the most marginalized areas in all of Central America.
Although keen to help her students excel, Ivania was facing an uphill battle. Her school’s remote location, limited resources and lack of access to culturally and linguistically appropriate material meant students were being left behind.
The Bosawas region of Nicaragua has the worst educational outcomes in the country. Home to mainly remote Indigenous communities, schools lack even basic supplies such as textbooks. Teachers often have no formal training or resources to help engage and inspire students to learn.
Without any supports, Ivania struggled to hold the attention of her students. Many lost interest in coming to school at all.
In 2020, Change for Children, supported by the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT), began testing a solution aimed at improving educational outcomes in the region. This solution included a training program and digital resource database access for teachers. The project provided mobile learning labs consisting of RACHELs (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning), as well as laptops and a robust solar power system to four Miskito Indigenous communities in Bosawas. RACHELs are small servers that provide reliable access to learning materials on massive digital libraries – customized to meet local cultural and language needs – to communities without internet access.
This innovative solution aimed to improve educational outcomes by providing: both in-person and virtual teacher training; educational resources such as virtual texts, libraries, and learning games; Miskito cultural and linguistic materials; and gender and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education.
Thus far, the uptake has been incredible. Nearly all teachers (98%) are actively using RACHEL resources. They have incorporated new teaching methods and strategies and are actively including Miskito and gender and SRHR education.
Ivania reports that access to the RACHEL has completely changed attitudes and behavior among her students. Perhaps most importantly, it has ignited a love of learning in her classroom.
“Today, I can proudly say that we use technology to better develop content and teach the children. My classroom environment is entertaining and the children are excited with the new way of learning.”
Ivania and other teachers are also reporting that the inclusion of Miskito language and culture in the learning resources has motivated them to incorporate traditional practises in their lessons and bring their culture into the classroom. More than 87 Miskito resources were added including stories from each community, presentations of cultural dances and traditional foods, as well as books for all ages and dictionaries.
“It has raised our self-esteem as Indigenous Peoples – to feel proud of who we are and not abandon our culture.”
Similarly, the inclusion of gender and SRHR education has changed interactions in the classroom and altered student behaviour.
“I feel empowered. We know our rights and make them respected. The gender materials are some of the RACHEL content that we use the most in our classrooms. It has made a difference in the classroom, the school, the families, and in the community as a whole”.