Ometepe Bilingual School

Ometepe Bilingual School

Organization Founded: Jun 2012

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Genre's of Aid

Veterinary Medicine
Social & Cultural Development
Sports, Recreation
MARENA –Conservation, Protection, Adequate use of natural resources
MINED - Education
MITRAB –Labor, Workers rights

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At Ometepe Bilingual School we believe that education is of utmost importance for a more prosperous and brighter future. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and our goal is to provide them with the education and language skills needed to expand their future opportunities. At our school, bilingual education is provided by pairing Spanish-language instruction by local teachers with English-language instruction using the skills of international volunteers. We believe a foundation for long-term, sustainable eco-tourism development on Ometepe and in Nicaragua can be created by educating and empowering the local population.

What We're About

Since 2001 we have been encouraging the local community to collect plastic bottles and fill them with non-degradable trash such as plastic bags. Hacienda Merida pays .60 USD for each filled bottle. In addition, employees fill bottles as part of their job duties and bottles are accepted in exchange for use of the high speed internet connection at the hotel. During the last 10 years we have facilitated the collection of more than 18,000 trash-filled plastic bottles with a total combined weight of more than three tons. We use the bottles to construct classrooms, tables, chairs, and other infrastructure for the Ometepe Bilingual School; our 3 classrooms is a direct result of our plastic reuse program.

In 2013 Ometepe Bilingual School opened its first eco-friendly classroom, built from plastic waste and sustainable earth-bag technology. The earth bags are used as structural columns for the roof and the bottles are used to fill in between the earth bag columns. As of February 2014, construction is under-way on our second classroom building. In addition we have constructed tables and chairs for the Hacienda Merida hotel and for the local public schools.

The re-use of plastic waste serves two purposes. First, it reduces the amount of concrete and other non- sustainable building materials that would otherwise need to be imported to Ometepe at great expense. Furthermore, it sequesters plastic waste which prevents it from entering the lake or contaminating the environment. Ometepe has no recycling or trash collection services; local people would otherwise burn the plastic waste or leave it lying on the ground.

Our table design is open source and available for use by others. Give us a call to find out more about building your own bottle table.

We also welcomed our first elementary school class. Twelve four and five-year-olds enrolled in our first kindergarten class. Throughout the year the children studied in Spanish with a local teacher and in English with a series of generous volunteers. We celebrated the first graduating class in December 2013.

In February 2014, our elementary school program started its second year. Last year’s kindergarteners are now boisterous first graders and we have a new entering kindergarten class. Our local teaching staff has doubled as our newly hired first grade teacher joins our Kindergarten teacher. We continue to seek out and welcome English-speaking volunteers to provide English-language instruction to our students.

The Ometepe Bilingual School functions similarly to a charter school in the US. OBS follows the Ministry of Education curriculum and there is no tuition. Class size is limited, but enrollment is open to all parents who are interested and willing to commit to their child’s education, to supporting their child at home, and to keeping their child in the program throughout primary school. In addition to the OBS, Merida is served by a public grade school (Kindergarten through 6th grade) and a public secondary school (with 5 grade levels).

Over the next six years we plan to construct five more eco-friendly classrooms from plastic waste, transforming an empty field by the lakeshore into a fully-functioning bilingual school for 84 students (12 per grade, grade K-6).



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