The Dominican Republic, like the rest of the world, is still under the influence of the pandemic. Thus, Covid-19 has also delayed the construction of the RNT Rausch and Acronis school. However, the foundations are set, the roofs are installed as well as the toilets, a small stage was built, and the entire neighborhood is in a positive sense of excitement.
There’s always something is going on here every day, although schools are still closed throughout the country. The campus is the place for kids to have fun and play - and above all, to learn while playing. As Patricia Suriel, founder and director of the Mariposa DR Foundation, says, "School often has a negative connotation here because lessons in many schools are held as they were 50 years ago. It’s no fun to learn. So we do it differently."
What Patricia calls "experimental learning" is letting girls and boys learn their country’s history, or science such as mathematics and biology, based on what’s available on site. During trips to coffee plantations in the neighborhood, they grow plants and learn more about the precious brown beans that form an important livelihood for many. While playing dominoes, they practice arithmetic. When cooking, they learn about measuring units such as centiliters or grams. Building a volleyball court lets them practice and understand area calculations and geometry which is not perceived as swotting up on unpleasant maths.
"A lot of what doesn't look like schooling in the first place does provide important knowledge the kids will need later," Patricia says. She expects schools to reopen in mid-September at the earliest, or April 2022 at the latest. Until then, the aim is to maintain the children's and parents' curiosity about school. Three so-called ‘educators’ help to keep curiosity alive; a 16-years old girl and a 17-years old boy from a regional high school as well as a mother from the community support the daily learning adventures. With their work, they’re not only playing an important role until the trained teachers can get started again at ‘Mountain School’ but also learn a lot for life. In parallel, third-party professionals do also get engaged to offer workshops, camps, and more under trained pedagogical direction.
The leaders at Mariposa DR Foundation also have other exciting plans for the "learning by doing" of their protégés. As far as they’re concerned, the older boys from Mariposa and its adjacent neighborhood should plant and cultivate about 500 macadamia trees. The youngsters could also grow and sell lulo, a tropical nightshade plant whose fruit is used to make juices, shampoo, and more to earn money in the future. The plans for the girls include small coffee cooperatives.
"The children’s energy is overwhelming," Patricia tells us, "they are curious and enthusiastic." This spark leaps over to the entire community and creates a bond. That's just one of the many reasons why they're already working on another project: The campus stage shall be used for community celebrations, movie nights, and more - as soon as Covid-19 allows.
Even in far-away Germany, the enthusiasm is great: We at RNT Rausch are happy to watch the project grow and witness how something big is emerging for the little ones here.
Join us on our way to the official opening of the school! Current news and reports about the overall progress as well as further donation possibilities can be found under RNT Education.
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