The director and homeroom teachers at a school in a local community have identified an under-served population of students that come from low socioeconomic status (SES) families who struggle obtaining school supplies when the new school year begins. Students from low SES families are more educationally disadvantaged compared to other children from higher SES families. For example, they are unable to obtain the necessary school supplies such as notebooks, pens, pencils, agendas and backpacks that support effective reading, writing and other methods of learning. Similarly, students from low SES families cannot afford school lunch from the school cafeteria while other primary school students can afford these healthy meals crucial for development and growth. This leaves low SES students resorting to other unhealthy alternatives such as only eating bread and purchasing cheap food items such as chips, candy, and biscuits, which lack nutritional value. Teachers from this school are under-equipped, underfunded, and not sufficiently trained to address this serious issue. Teachers themselves are facing their own issues such as austere local and national governments failing to provide adequate social assistance, and salaries that are, on a global standard, falling below the poverty line. However, the issues facing these teachers does not deter their own demeanor in addressing the issues facing their students, even if their solutions are not sustainable. Teachers collectively pay from their own small salaries for school supplies in order to support their low SES students. The school’s cafeteria is making equally great sacrifices in their effort to address this problem by providing free breakfast to students from primary school (grades I-IV) at the cost of low salaries for cafeteria staff and small portioning, affecting the nutrition of other students from moderate socioeconomic statuses. These austere conditions lead to the school cafeteria being unable to provide supplemental or discounted school lunch for low SES students, further affecting their development and health.
This project is a collaborative effort between the school's female director, the cafeteria staff, the school administration, and the current health education Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). The school's director and the homeroom teachers have a meeting at the beginning of every school year to collect money from their own salaries to pay for the school supplies of students they have identified coming from low SES families. Furthermore, in instances where the teachers did not earn their monthly salary due to government and regional setback, collective efforts are made by the homeroom teachers to take small donations from other students in the class to help pay for the low SES students in their class. The school's cafeteria has already made efforts to provide the students from low SES families with breakfast every morning. On days where there is a sufficient amount of food left over, or some students do not eat, the school cafeteria will provide a meal to the students that are hungry. The school collective has expressed their concerns to the current health education PCV looking for amelioration as they have realized throughout the last decade that their efforts are not sustainable.
Our project entails a 4-part training for 15 female teachers at the school on grant writing, culturally appropriate fundraising, and advocacy. The females from this group include the school's director, the school administration, and homeroom teachers. The training will not only equip the scholarship committee with the necessary skills and knowledge to sustain the scholarship fund, but it will also equip the entire school with knowledge and skills to address other equally important issues.