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Partnership Spotlight: Fundación Sariry, Bolivia

Written by Volunteer Gonzalo Guevara
According to the World Bank, Bolivia has a school absence rate of approximately 5% for primary school children. However, when we look at the statistics of school absence in secondary school, this rate significantly increases to 20% and even higher for children in remote and rural areas of Bolivia. In addition, we know that there are not enough teachers in Bolivia and there are often large class sizes of more than 30 students in a class, which has negative impacts on their student outcomes. In more remote areas, there tends to be fewer and smaller schools with one class per grade and also lesser choices for accessing quality education. These significant gaps in Bolivia education context allow the Breteau Foundation to develop education opportunities for Bolivian children and improve the quality of education for them.

Proving Education Access in Viacha, Bolivia

Fundación Sariry has taken a leading role in changing the education of hundreds of students in Nueva Tilata, Viacha, in Bolivia. Viacha is a rural city located outside La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, and is part of the province of Ingavi.  Education in Viacha is limited, currently there is only one primary school and a secondary school that has recently opened where students can study until the third year, making it impossible for a lot of them to graduate from school and continue further studies. To address the lack of opportunities for learning in Viacha, Fundación Sariry has been committed to improving education for children ages 3 to 18 through their Mobile Education Programme which launched two years ago. 

Fundación Sariry’s Mobile Education Programme

The Mobile Education Programme started during the pandemic aiming to reduce school dropouts. Equipped with a mobile phone or a laptop and academic resources, the teachers visit students’ homes without devices or connectivity, providing the means for children to do their homework and continue their school year remotely. 
Stronger and new partnerships and enhanced pedagogical tools were required to continue delivering the programme. Sariry started a partnership with three key stakeholders; the non-profit organization Bolivia Kids who donated tablets, the local school who referred students and the university which provided interns from the Pedagogy and Psychopedagogy degrees. With more mobile devices at hand, Fundación Sariry recognized that they needed more expertise on how to best use and optimize the tablets for their classes and looked for potential partners specializing in Edtech for primary school education. 
The Breteau Foundation partnered with Fundación Sariry to curate and donate a selection of educational apps and software for their tablets, and train their educators on how best to use the apps, software and tablets to improve their pedagogical practices in the Mobile Education Programme.  The programme travels to children’s houses after school, usually between 14:30 and 17:00, and they are provided with additional support to catch up with their learning at school. 
With the support of the Breteau Foundation, the programme now is being replicated in a second community in Tilata, and aims to boost student’s performance at school, ensuring that particularly the children with learning difficulties are learning and developing their literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and creativity skills. The programme also gives the students the opportunity to explore new apps, software and technologies that many of them have not accessed before. 

Impact of the Programme in the Community

Elisa Aguilar, Coordinator of Sariry foundation, and Freddy Machaca, Mobile Education Programme Coordinator, explained to us the need for launching the Mobile Education Programme during COVID and its current focus and positive impact. Elisa explains that “the programme targets kids who are falling behind. In every class, there are students that fall behind in the coursework or understanding of topics, and teachers do not have time to level them. They have difficulties with reading or forming words, with sums and multiplications. It is key that they understand these topics for their further development”. 
Initially, educators were not interested in the programme but after seeing great improvement with the children participating in the programme, they were keen to learn more. “Now, educators want us to work with all children, and not only the ones that are getting behind”. According to Freddy, “thanks to the Breteau Foundation’s support, our programme evolved and improved academic success. Through the apps, we are reinforcing students’ skills”.  For Fundación Sariry, they are looking at the future positively and Elisa looks forward to the possibility of replicating the programme in other cities. 
Fundación Sariry’s Mobile Education Programme has been a great example of the impact that organizations and collaborative partnerships can have in the education system. While working together, each partner has leveraged their own strengths and knowledge to benefit children and achieve the goals of the programme. The result is incredible, and we have seen a huge improvement in children’s learning and growth since the programme started. 
For the Breteau Foundation, quality education and access has been our key priority and partnering with such great programmes allows us to create greater impact. Through our partnerships with incredible organizations, we look forward to continuing to contribute to improving education for thousands more children in Bolivia. 
 
Sources:
  1. World Bank primary education:
    https://datos.bancomundial.org/indicator/SE.PRM.UNER.ZS?locations=BO
  2. World Bank Secondary education:
    https://datos.bancomundial.org/indicador/SE.SEC.UNER.LO.ZS?locations=BO
  3. The global economy:
    https://es.theglobaleconomy.com/rankings/student_teacher_ratio_primary_school/South-America/
  4. Class size impacts on children in Bolivia:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24096038_Identifying_Class_Size_Effects_in_Developing_Countries_Evidence_from_Rural_Bolivia
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