Sir Ken Robinson once said that the problem with education nowadays is that we have a nineteenth century system taught by twentieth century teachers to twenty-first century students. In our post-modern society, where hedonism and individualism tend to prevail, it becomes increasingly difficult for children to have access to a holistic education. Psychosocial, artistic and spiritual development ought to be as important as academic studies. These difficulties are accentuated when it comes to socially and economically disadvantaged children.
In 2008, WWDF (Women’s Welfare Department Foundation) Costa Rica began to work in La Carpio, a marginal community in the outskirts of San Jose. It has an area of just 0.6 sq.km and approximately 20,000 inhabitants, of which 42% are minors, making it the biggest slum in the country. We identified a huge gap in relation to the quality of education that these children receive. In La Carpio children only receive 3 hours of schooling daily in crowded classrooms. As a result of this there exists a serious problem with children not passing the grade, and in general their academic performance is way below the national average. Combined with this many of them are faced with strong emotional and social challenges.
The CASA ILORI project was created with the objective of giving these children better opportunities and furthermore provide them with access to a Neohumanist education.
Casa Ilori is not a school, but an afterschool program. The afterschool program allows us to:
Take advantage of the formal education system. In this way the students continue receiving the four basic subjects: Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and Spanish.
Benefit a larger number of kids.
Avoid being tied to a government-imposed curriculum.
Casa Ilori is a project that provides children with opportunities to access:
Tutoring: We provide group and individual attention, depending on the needs of each student.
Technology: Casa Ilori has a special laboratory for learning computer skills; this is also used as a tool to acquire knowledge in other areas. The objective is to ensure that the students acquire access to higher education and better employment opportunities. The public school system doesn’t offer the children in La Carpio these skills in contrast to the majority of other public schools in the country.
Artistic development: The arts are very important in Casa Ilori. We have daily workshops where children learn to express their emotions, feelings and interests through art.
Creative movement: In La Carpio there is a total absence of recreational spaces where children can develop proper motor skills, have fun and be free to express themselves. We have a classroom dedicated to dance, creative movement and yoga.
English: Our children don’t have access to learning English at their public school. We teach English in a practical and playful manner by using dramas, songs and games.
Life skills: Here we use “Circle of Love”, which includes, storytelling, quiet time, cooperative games, artistic activities, etc.
Psycho-affective support: Each child in Ilori receives individual attention to address their psycho-affective needs.
Environmental education: La Carrpio is built around the largest landfill in San José, it is poorly operated and this creates huge contamination and health issues. We encourage the children to recycle, reuse and keep their community clean. We organize regular workshops, inside and outside the community where children can experience nature and learn to appreciate and care for the environment.
Currently we have 120 children in the program, which runs from Monday to Friday from 7am to 4pm. One of the main lessons we learned during our years working with the community is that we can give only what we cultivate within ourselves. In order to achieve our proposed objectives it is essential that each one of us be on a constant quest for inner growth inspired by the Neohumanist world view.