Island of teachers

Translation from the original by Jennifer Castillo Bermudez

One year ago, the Ometepe Island started a digital revolution, as the Zamora Terán Foundation delivered five thousand XO computers to all students and teachers in the 32 primary schools at the Ometepe Island. With this generous donation, Ometepe Island became the first digital island in the region.  Following this digital revolution, Ometepe now boasts a 90% student retention rate and has shown great increase in school performance.

John Martinez , 9 , is “glowing” the most. In a class of 24 students, he was the quietest of the classroom. However, when he received his XO computer, he became the ” technical advisor ” of Professor Martha Rodriguez’s classroom, in the Rigoberto Cabezas School of Ometepe Island. “Now when I am giving classes on topics, he tells me which educational app I can use to teach that kind of Spanish, Math or Science. He is outstanding,” says Rodriguez. This once quiet child was the first one in his class to learn how to use the XO.” Within a week of receiving the computer, he told me he was able to use it and he offered to help me,” says Rodriguez. According to Martinez, “She [his teacher] did not want to use the computer because she didn’t know how, and I wanted us to start using it, so after a week of having it, I learned to do it and was able to teach her how to use it.”

Since February 2012, all primary students on the Ometepe Island became teachers in the classroom. In addition, the students began to excel in competitions organized by the Ministry of Education ( MINED ) at the state and national level. “Retention rates and school performance improved. Now they all are teachers on the island because children learn quickly,” says Byron Countryman, MINED delegate on the Ometepe Island. The island has 4,512 elementary students in the two municipalities: Altagracia and Moyogalpa, according to Paisano. In just over a year, “Our students have become more active students. The boys have developed more skills and knowledge for their own learning,” says Countryman. Last year, Gabriel Alberto Muñoz was elected as the best student of Rivas and Maria Roberta Flores won one of the first places in the Reading aloud competition organized by the MINED.

The arrival of the XO computers also alleviated the need for classroom textbooks, says Jorge Luis Espinoza , director of the College Ruben Dario. Prior to the arrival of the XO computers, said Paisano, “We had an 80% shortage of books in subjects such as language arts and math. The computers have helped us to resolve this deficit.”

Professor Mirna Sevilla Romero says the incorporation of new technologies in primary education ” woke students up,” and also “demanded a  greater commitment from our teachers”. She continued, “If we, as teachers, are not familiar with technology and its use in education, our students will be far ahead of us.” “Our methods of evaluating student performance also changed because now we not only do written tests, but teachers also organize tournaments and competitions in the classroom that incorporate the computers,” says Leyla Road Barrios, director of the Rural Education Core schools Koos Koster , where 520 students study.

The children also get to use the computers outside of the classroom. “In the evenings, when I’m studying with my computer and helping my mom, I teach her, because she cannot read or write,” says John Martinez.

The Zamora Terán Foundation has invested more than $7.5 million since 2009, when it began distributing XO computers in Nicaragua. To date, over 30,000 computers have been delivered in 104 schools in the country, according to reports from the Foundation. In addition, more than 6.500 hours of teacher training has been provided . The teacher training program also provides ongoing monitoring and pedagogical support to schools.

One thought on “Island of teachers

  1. In just over a week, a 9 year old was teaching his teacher how to use a computer. It’s amazing how some children have an almost innate understanding of technology and how quickly they can pick it up.

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