I sat on the porch with Olma, my Nicaraguan home stay momma, attempting to seek refuge from the sauna like atmosphere of the tin roofed house. My 14 year old Nica brother, Oscar, also joined us outside. We sat on the street in wooden rocking chairs. The conversation turned interesting.
Olma discussed education in Nicaragua. She told me something that I will never forget. She told me that the parents of children in Nicaragua have only one responsibility—that is to ensure that their children go to school. She believes that the reason why many kids don’t go to school is because their parents don’t enforce it; they quickly give up on their children after a few refusals or the ‘feet stuck in the mud’ syndrome.
Olma grew up extremely impoverished; she was raised by her mother who worked hard her whole life cleaning and cooking in nasty rich peoples’ houses. Although they struggled, Olma claims her mother made sure that her children attended school—whether clean, dirty, or hungry—they made it to school every day. Both her daughters graduated high school.
The conversation turned to Oscar, who isn’t Olma’s biological son but somewhat of an unofficial adopted son. Oscar can be lazy. Sometimes he doesn’t feel like going to school and struggles to get out of bed. Olma directed her comments at him—stressing that he had a choice—go to school and succeed or drop out and end up an uneducated casualty.
I had been teaching English to Oscar the past month and had noticed his desire to ask a lot of questions. Asking questions implies a level of interest and intelligence. I told Oscar that he was smart and has a lot of potential. My words hit his heart; I could see a slight flicker of a smirk. I hope Oscar chooses his path through education.
I think Olma is right. Kids need to go to school. Parents need to force them to go. School is free in Nicaragua (at the public schools.) Projects like ours—Nicaragua School Project— can break down other financial barriers for parents, since we purchase necessary school supplies for 600 children in El Pantanal. Let the mentality of education (seen in Olma) spread like wild fire across Nicaragua and throughout this beautiful world!!