How do you calculate the value of one teacher?

A few years ago, I had the privilege of seeing Food for the Hungry staff at work in Nicaragua — the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti. One of the places I went was El Limonal, a community I was told lay in the “triangle of death” between the city’s dump, cemetery and sewer system.

Here, all odds are against children getting an education. The average Nicaraguan adult has completed fewer than six years of schooling. But the FH staff will tell you people need education in order to escape the cycle of poverty.

In El Limonal, it’s common for children to spend their days in the dump instead of the classroom. Resource-poor families need the income from scavenged recyclable materials in order to meet basic, immediate needs. 
Classrooms here are insecure; the one I visited actually only had a roof and support beams — no walls. So children carry their desks to and from school.
Teachers often are under-resourced and given
an impossible number of students to teach.

How about 70 first graders? In one school in El Limonal, there were 70 students to one teacher. FH staff noticed very few students were progressing on to second grade, so FH paid to hire another teacher — at an annual salary of only $1,640 (in U.S. dollars).

One year later, an astounding 85 percent of those 70 kids moved up to the next grade.Nicaragua’s government has noticed this, and FH is working with the Ministry of Education to encourage more funding for teachers, hoping that by next year, this vital teacher in El Limonal will be government-paid.

But what would have become of those 70 kids had that second teacher never arrived? Would some have dropped out and gone to collect plastic and glass from the dump? More importantly, what might become of those who were able to move up a grade, and hopefully on to the next? Will they become trained professionals … leaders in their community? We may never know the long-lasting value of that $1,640 investment.

In Nicaragua and around the world, FH also provides school supplies and scholarships, among other services, to boost children’s education.

If you’d like to support this vital need and give children a real chance to break free from poverty, consider joining Poverty 180 for only $9 per month!

, , ,