During this week we’ve been going around Samaipata rural villages to meet headmasters and teachers working in both primary and secondary schools. It has been a week quite challenging because we gave a line to what the final output of our job shadowing in Bolivia should be.

The aim was to collect data on the topic of early school leaving by teachers’ experiences. We worked with our coordinator and the human resources manager of the municipality of Samaipata who helped us to relate to the teachers.

We crossed amazing places and mountain roads, with many rivers and small streams. The landscape we could see was gorgeous, full of green and very pleasant.

The meetings were essential for our research: we have collected useful information for our project and discovered the most important causes of school dropouts. In particular, we noticed with pleasure that there isn’t a high percentage of ESL, but rather a migration of families from rural areas to places where the job reasearch is easier. Among the most interesting activities there were surely the school visits: it was impressive just to observe the structures, the pupils during class, their classrooms etc.

It seems in Bolivia there are several villages called Palermo, so we visited a primary school in one of the Bolivian “Palermo”, with six pupils aged from 6 to 8 years. On that day they were only 4 because of the rain. It’s a totally remote school in the Bolivian mountains, difficult to reach by any means of transportation.

Students were taking class all together, regardless of the age, under a porch despite the bad weather. The teacher has been working in that place for 29 years: she was very excited and happy to live and work there. She told us that in recent years from a number of 23 students, only 6 remained since many families choose to live in places where there is light, running water, telephone and television. She tries to make it clear to the children how important and nice is to grow in contact with nature and that there is always time to move to the cities.

One of the schools (in my opinion, the most important of the area) is a secondary technical night-school, which allows young people and adults to have a professional title. Here you can attend several courses to become an electrician, a dressmaker, an agronomist, etc. That school is fundamental to the needs of the local population since it allows mothers and young adults to learn a manual job or to specialize in a sector. The negative side is that they have almost no support from the institutions, the lessons are held in unsuitable places, but above all without any training material. We got to meet the students and had some talk about their expectations, many of them would like to continue and go to college even though they have economic problems. We hope that thanks to our research Samaipata municipality will understand better which are the training needs of children and adults so to start supporting them.

Irene