Back-to-school supply shopping is a fun part of the planning process for a new year of learning. A pencil and notebook may seem insignificant to many children in Canada, but for thousands of students in Nicaragua, these supplies make their education possible.
In 2020, SchoolBOX, a registered Canadian and Nicaraguan charity received a $5,000 grant from the Gay Lea Foundation to equip students and teachers in Nicaragua with school supplies.
Founded in 2006, the organization began providing Nicaraguan students with the supplies they need to attend school and lift themselves out of poverty. The charity has also evolved to build more than 80 libraries and 110 classrooms supporting tens of thousands of kids each year.
SchoolBOX’s Supplies Program is the backbone of the charity. It provides the students with supplies for the entire school year, which include notebooks, pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, ruler, coloured pencils and modelling clay. SchoolBOX also provides each child with a backpack every three years and supports teachers, who in Nicaragua, only earn between $80-$250 USD per month. Teacher supply packages include dry erase markers, planning notebooks, coloured pens, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener and more.
In a country where 56 per cent of students don’t make it past the sixth grade, the students who have school supplies are more likely to stay in school. Also, the financial burden for education is being placed on teachers and students, so basic supplies let both student and teacher keep the classrooms functioning. This makes a difference to the lifelong prospects of the children.
With the grant from the Gay Lea Foundation, 500 educational packages were purchased locally, packaged and distributed in February 2021 to individual students and teachers in partnering schools with the help of Nicaraguan staff and volunteers. February is the beginning of the new school year in Nicaragua.
“The pandemic and the economic impacts of global lockdowns have been hitting communities that were already facing extreme poverty hard,” says Sarah Kerr, SchoolBOX’s Executive Director. “By providing these simple supplies, we’re ensuring that a simple notebook doesn’t stand in the way of a child being able to attend class or to work on their assignments from home.
On behalf of SchoolBOX, I want to express our sincere gratitude to the Gay Lea Foundation for supporting our mission of making education possible for children in Nicaragua,” adds Kerr.