Improving Every Day to Teach Children Better

Maria Emili Rivero Vargas talks about her experience as a teacher as well as the educational system in Bolivia.
September 2, 2018 - Bolivia

Emili in mathematics classes. “As teachers, we should be open to adapt to our students' needs.”

This morning, Emili taught science and language classes. At the moment, the main focus in language classes is on dictation. The children learn not just to write, but to fully understand what they are writing. Mathematics, language, science and social science make up the four main subjects of the Bolivian educational system. On top of those core classes, students also learn art, technology, music, English and physical education. Apart from English and physical education, Emili teaches all of them. At the moment, her students are in physical education, giving her a break to sit down and talk.

The Profe, as she is called by her students, loves her job. She started teaching 10 years ago at a local school where none of the students spoke Spanish – they all spoke Quechua, a Mayan language. But for the past four years, Emili has been with NPH.

Emili always tries to give 100% for the children. She feels it is her duty to make the best out of her time in the classroom, to teach them as much as possible and also show them love and care. “Teachers should be open to adapt,” Emili believes. “For example, if we talk about environment, we should go out with the children and show them plants, trees, and animals, so that children see, feel and experiment the material.”

Generally speaking, the ideology of education in Bolivia is inclusive. School should be free of charge, and all children should go to school. Primary school starts at 8:30 a.m. and lasts until just after noon. Every class lasts 40 minutes, and in the middle there is a bigger break for a meal. The food is paid for by the government.

Unfortunately, there are still many children who cannot attend school, and as many reasons why. Schools can be located too far from rural homes to make the journey every day. Some children are forced to make the difficult choice between going to school, or helping work at small jobs to contribute money for dinner every night. All of these factors and more contribute to lower rates of secondary school completion than primary school.

Consequences are rare for families who do not send their children to be educated, and support to address the problems keeping kids out of class can be equally hard to find.It is a topic that strains at Emili in a noticeable way: When she talks about all these missed chances for children, she looks clearly worried and sad.

The Profe sums up her thoughts: “As a teacher, you never stop learning. Every day we should get better at our jobs for the well-being of the children. Every teacher should try his or her best for their students. In the morning, we put on our NPH shirts and do the best we can for the children.”

Carina Eckl   
Communication Officer




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