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 The Development of ECOS-Río Plátano

 This scholarship program was developed in response to the concerns of families in Las Marias and the visit of an ex-Peace Corps Volunteer. During this visit the state of primary school education in Las Marias was discussed with a variety of community members. Much concern was expressed about the poor attitudes and behaviors of teachers assigned to their remote community school. The parents determined that the principle causes of these teachers not fulfilling their duties were 1) they were fresh out of school and too inexperienced or 2) they were assigned to the remote location as a punishment for poor behavior in other schools and they did not want to live and work in the community.

As a result, over the past six years teachers have spent between 30 and 50 percent of the time that should have been dedicated to teaching duties outside of the community. These teachers have demonstrated very little dedication to the community and her children. The students have suffered as a result and no lobbying of the regional superintendent has produced any significant change.

As an alternative to this continuing problem, one potential solution was discussed: the formation of teachers from the community who could return and dedicate themselves to improving the quality of education in the community. Unfortunately, there are very few opportunities for children to continue with their studies beyond sixth grade. This is due to the distance between the community and secondary educational institutions and limited financial resources of parents within the communty.

Although many parents wish to support the continuing education of their children, the logistical and financial obstacles are insurmountable. As the desire to form teachers from the community was discussed, the subject that there are no professionals of any kind in the community (such as biologists or agronomists) was also touched upon. The parents felt that such trained individuals would be indispensable in the community to address the needs of managing wildlife, ecotourism, and agriculture.

The ECOS Río Plátano scholarship program was developed by the parents of Las Marias through a facilitated process that began in November of 2000 and was completed April 22, 2001. The parents met twice in formal meetings to develop the details of the plan. During the final meeting, the parents signed a document stating that they were committed to making the program work and to rewarding those deserving students in their community. It is their hope that those individuals who know Las Marias or who are committed to supporting indigenous education will involve themselves with ECOS Río Plátano as donors. It is also hoped that tourists and tourism agencies can become supporters of the scholarship program as well.



ECOS-Río Plátano
PO Box 16020, Bellemont, AZ 86015, USA
E-mail ECOS-Río Plátano