The private non-profit university scholarship and loans programs of Suchitoto invite you to invest in the post-high school education of the youth of Suchitoto.
The six high school programs in the municipality of Suchitoto are graduating almost 250 students per year. The graduates, however, have very limited employment prospects in El Salvador. As a consequence many opt to immigrate to the United States hoping for a better future. The most favorable option for them in El Salvador is to continue their education. Of the graduating high school students from 2006 to date an average of 20 to 30 students per year have entered higher educational institutions. Most of these are graduates of the INSU, the National Institute “Suchitoto”, among the top ten of over 450 public and private high schools in the nation. The remainder of the students contiuing their studies after high school which on an average ranges from 6-10 students per year are graduates from the five rural high schools programs in Suchitoto.
Many more youth have the desire and demonstrated academic ability to continue their post high school studies but can’t for economic reasons with university education(tuition, books, internet access, printing, photocopies, etc), travel and living expenses costing about $1600/year at the National University up to about $2400 in private universities. Over the last decade a number of private university scholarship and no interest student loan programs, mostly externally funded, have been established to help overcome the economic hurdle. These, along with some individual donors, currently provide financial aid for about 130 youth each year. In 2012 the educational programs working in Suchitoto spent just over $132,000 providing scholarships, loans and housing to 141 students from Suchitoto. In 2013 due to financial limitations the programs are supporting 134 students at a cost of just over $117,000. We would like to see that number at least double, but without increased support this is impossible.
These programs working jointly have sponsored seven university fairs-a first for El Salvador outside the capital-, arranged for career counseling for seniors in 2007-2013 and visit each of the high schools (6 schools in total now since 2012) on a regular bases to talk with seniors about university and post-high school options and the availability of financial aid from the different programs in our municipality.
There are currently around 250 university students from Suchitoto attending school in the capital, which represents a large and as yet untapped pool of human capital for the municipality. The programs are seeking both to tap this pool and to encourage efforts in Suchitoto to open job possibilities for university graduates. In 2012 and 2013 coordination and support with the Suchitoto city mayor and council members has improved and now two members of the formal educational programs participate in a citywide educational committee. In 2012 and 2013 the city has also supported our joint efforts now providing $500/year for our University Fair and starting in June of 2013 $125/month to help us finance a large coed student house in San Salvador that houses 19 students and is located walking distance from the National University. We hope that in the future the city will increase this support perhaps opening another student house. We calculate that students living in our house save an average of around $500/year and even more important hundreds of hours than many time are spent on public buses which take from one an half to two hours to travel from Suchitoto to the capital and much longer for those students living in the rural villages of Suchitoto.
In 2011 the Pedagogical University after participating in the annual university fair for some years and seeing an interest by the formal program leaders, the city and school principals started working with some 60 of their university students providing extra classes on weekends in 6 schools in Suchitoto, sighing a formal 5 year agreement with the city to see what results might come from this joint effort. We now are hopeful that other universities might join this effort to reinforce a deficient public school system perhaps becoming a model to follow in other cities in El Salvador.
The work of Frank Cummings overseeing a program started through Atlanta Friends Meeting many years ago and also initially inspiring a former catholic priest of Suchitoto’s Santa Lucia Parish to start a local collection to support post high school education and Robert Broz field director for Palo Alto Friends Meeting El Salvador projects started back in early 2006 when the idea of organizing the first university fair was discussed. This started a process of surveys, evaluations, investigations and the sharing of data that lead something that no one person or group would have accomplished alone. Many others involved in work within Suchitoto were suspicious when they asked their upfront questions about how much was being spent or how students were being selected, but over the years the individuals and leaders of the other programs began to realize that with the years of experience behind both groups, Palo Alto’s being the first formal program supporting post high school students back in 1999, opening the first university student housing in the capital that same year, and Franks precise analysis of the educational system, census data and work as an educator, that these two really were just trying to improve the possibility for the youth from Suchitoto. Just to mention a few of the more recent accomplishments that have been supported by various groups or programs; for the last 3 years the University Fair has been financed by the municipality of Suchitoto, Dignity Seed Foundation/Patrick O’Hara, Palo Alto Friends Meeting, Frank Cummings, Santa Cruz al Salvador and The Art Center for Peace(Centro Arte para la Paz), all but the Art Center for Peace combined efforts in 2012 to open our new student house in San Salvador, this has continued in 2013 and hopefully will continue in the future. In 2012 four of the formal programs started to use the same application form and deadlines and share some basic requirements for student applying for financial aid. We now receive financial information and student data from at least 4 other individuals/groups supporting post high school education in Suchitoto. We now also receive academic information from all of the high schools in Suchitoto.
We see this model as one that could and should be implemented in other parts of El Salvador or other developing countries where many times works is replicated by numerous groups with no coordination, with resources both human and economic not being used to the fullest potential. We are convinced that education is the basis for social-economic development but this model could be implemented in almost any area. It is important to look beyond political, religious, social and especially economic interests in an effort to maximize resources of whatever type.