Report from Sister Rose Jeske on the Bolivia School Project

 Bolivia School Project

In Bolivia, the school year starts in February (summer) and ends in mid-December. In July and August the students have several weeks off for their winter break. In February, I arrived at the mission for a five week stay, to help get the school year started. My job was to prepare the materials for the K/1 class, so that there would be a curriculum and teaching materials in place for the person replacing me. Since April, there have been a number of changes in the school, including teaching staff; therefore this report will describe the school as it was for the first two months of the 2010 school year.


Instead of three classes, there are only two combined classes at the mission school this year. Because there is only one Kindergarten student, the Kindergarten and grade 1 class are combined. The Kindergarten/Grade 1 class has 3 students and the upper elementary is a split class of 10 students in grades 2, 3, 4, and 6.

The school day begins at 8:15 a.m. with morning devotions. For the first 15 minutes the students sing, which includes practicing a song for the Sunday morning service. Thereafter, they listen to a Bible story and answer questions about the previous day’s story. The students love the Bible story, but they also look forward to the Friday story, which, although not a Bible story, is nevertheless a story that emphasizes Christian values. A vitamin program has been started at the school, and after morning devotions each child receives his/her vitamins and then proceeds to class.

The curriculum for the school is modeled somewhat after the Alberta and Neustädt, Mexico curriculums. Most of the textbooks used in the upper elementary class are those which are used in the school in Neustädt. The Kindergarten curriculum is based almost entirely on the Alberta curriculum, and the Grade 1 curriculum is a combination of Alberta and Mexico materials.

The students have one 15 recess break in the morning and in addition have a 5 minute break each hour. The lunch hour is from 11:35 to 12:10, and the students are dismissed for the day at 2:45 p.m. Before school in the morning and afternoon, the students like to play on the playground.

Because they live in a Spanish-speaking country, it is important that the students learn Spanish. The K/1 class has 2 Spanish periods per week, while in the upper elementary class, in addition to having Spanish language arts, some subjects are actually taught in Spanish. One has to admire the language learning abilities of the students. They speak Low German, High German, Spanish, and are interested in learning English. Two English as a second language periods per week were begun in this school year, and it is hoped that English language instruction can be continued, once teaching materials have been acquired.

The students are very interested in music, and in addition to learning recorder in school, they take private lessons. Piano, trumpet, accordion, guitar, flute and clarinet lessons are offered.

Because there is no gym, physical education activities have to take place outdoors. When it is raining, the students play games in the classrooms or play parachute games or play with balls in the hallway. In 2009, a small playground was built, which the students thoroughly enjoy. There are three swings, a slide, a climbing wall, a rope ladder, and just recently monkey bars were added. The plan is to expand the playground, adding more swings and perhaps a teeter-totter or other climbing equipment.

During recess time the students like to play organized games on the front lawn. They don’t play with balls outside very often, because the balls always seem to be in need of being pumped up with air. When the balls come into contact with the wild palms with their long thorns, the thorns puncture the balls, and often the holes cannot be repaired. The school does have balls made of a soft, sponge-like material, and the students are allowed to play with these balls in the hallway, for it is unlikely any windows would be broken by these soft balls.

Four laptops were donated by individuals in Edmonton, and the plan is to set up a computer lab so the students can learn keyboarding skills and access learning activities through the Internet. Hopefully, several more laptops can be acquired so that there are enough laptops for two students to share one laptop.

The students love coming to school and are disappointed when they have a day off. Because they live in a rural area and do not have easy access to activities in the city, nor do they have many toys at home, a non-school day is simply not as much fun as being in school with their friends.

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