avocado tree school, nicaragua

Until the Avocado Tree School opened in 1998, only 50% of children in the town of La Concepcion (just south of the capital Managua), had access to education. Illiteracy had rocketed and over 85% of the population were unemployed.

Since then, the school has grown and developed and now has 520 pupils with the day divided between primary and secondary education. It is seen as one of the leading schools in the region, and while it seeks to provide the best quality education that it can, it also sees its role as being wider than this.

For many of the many children who attend, one or often both of their parents have had to leave Nicaragua to find work and the school provides them with a place to belong and to feel safe. "This is our home. We've been coming here since we were five. Here are our friends and our family." Shalamar, 16. Her mother works in Spain as a domestic worker and is only able to come back once a year, her father is a driver and is often away, so she lives with her grandfather.

The school also seeks to equip pupils with a keen idea of the role they can play in forging a new Nicaragua – to play their role in creating a society that cares for its poorest members and which knows stability and prosperity despite the numerous challenges this highly impoverished country faces.

"I want to be a nurse – to work in poor communities so that they can have health care." Jordan Guevrap, 17, who has now finished at Avocado Tree School and started a position at nursing college.

While the Avocado Tree School would like to offer free places to all its pupils, it unfortunately cannot do this because it receives no state support. Instead, they offer 60 free places and highly subsidised education for all the other pupils.

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