In the past few weeks, we’ve looked at several examples (first in Kenya, second in India) of how sponsorship empowers families to support their children’s education. Today we finish the series by looking at El Salvador and closing the technology gap.
For students living in poverty, computers are seen as expensive luxuries that only the rich can afford. Many schools do not provide computer training.
Unless they find a way to learn computers, students have trouble keeping up.
“When students reach high school or college, their teachers expect them to know how to access the Internet, download assignments, do research and check grades,” said Yesenia Alfaro, project coordinator for CFCA in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
(You can read more about Yesenia’s interview and the technological gap for students in developing countries here.)
To help level the playing field for CFCA sponsored students, the project contracted with local technical schools to offer computer classes to students ages 13 to 20. CFCA also covers the cost of transportation to class for students in rural areas.
Computer classes have helped Edwin, a 17-year-old sponsored youth in El Salvador. Two years before starting high school, Edwin learned to use Word, Excel, Photoshop and the Internet.
“I can add [these skills] to my resume and it gives me higher chances to get a job,” Edwin said.
Edwin’s computer skills also gave him an edge in high school.
“Because I learned computers, I could focus more on other subjects,” he said.
In 2010, 140 sponsored teens graduated from computer classes supported by CFCA in El Salvador.
Currently, 360 sponsored children are enrolled in computer courses. The project hopes to offer the benefit to more sponsored students.
The classes are an option families can choose among other sponsorship benefits.
Rosa, Edwin’s mother, was excited to learn that the computer class was a benefit option. For her family, the benefit is more important than extra food.
“I would rather have my children in school taking computer or English lessons, because I can find ways to get beans and tortillas,” Rosa said.