Primary Literacy Promoter

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Project Description

The Dominican Republic faces extreme challenges with their education system. The overall quality of the Dominican education system was ranked 131 out of 143 countries. (Global Information Technology Report, 2015) Three of the biggest challenges are:
• Attrition/drop out
• Students over-age for their grade (only half of all students in primary and secondary school are between 6 and 17 years of age)
• Improving the quality of learning and strengthening teaching

The purpose of the Childhood Literacy Project is to lay a foundation for lifelong learning and improve communities' development opportunities by strengthening childhood literacy programs. Primary Literacy Promoters will work to decrease the number of children who are overage, repeat, and/or dropout of school due in large part to the fact that they have not yet learned to read and write effectively.

Your primary assignment will be to serve as a resource for the school director, counselor, teachers, parents, youth, and other groups in your community. Specifically, Volunteers and project partners will work to help teachers integrate innovative teaching practices in the classroom, work with students to improve their reading skills and thus increase their overall success in education, and work to involve parents and the community in literacy and education promotion. Work will involve classroom teaching, sharing resources, developing teaching materials and becoming involved in community and school based projects.

The Education Sector’s approach to project implementation is to target key regions within the Dominican Republic that most need or are most receptive to working on this initiative. PCVs are primarily clustered by educational district and follow-up PCVs are provided throughout the six-year period of the project plan, in order to ensure the achievement of the ultimate goal of more students reading and writing well when they leave the third grade. In addition to PCDR’s formal working agreement with the Ministry of Education, whenever possible PCVs are partnered with local organizations working in education to collectively support the work of the Ministry, with the aim of institutionalizing PCVs’ efforts in improving primary literacy.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach literacy.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will meet or exceed the following:
• Previous experience working with elementary school students
• Previous experience in literacy tutoring or teaching (previous Spanish literacy teaching a plus)
• Previous teaching experience and working with teachers/school personnel
• Experience working with community based organizations

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.

A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Additional Language Information

Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish skills. Peace Corps provides intensive language training during the 10 weeks of pre-service training. At the end of training, Peace Corps Dominican Republic requires an oral proficiency of Intermediate-Mid on the ACTFL scale. (For a better understanding of language levels, see Trainees that arrive with conversational Spanish skills are likely to reach this level. Peace Corps encourages applicants/invitees to continue their language learning while awaiting departure.

Living Conditions

Volunteers will live with two families during the 10 week pre-service training (one family in Santo Domingo and the other in a smaller community during community-based training). Volunteers will live with a third host family for the first 4-6 months of service in their assigned community to facilitate language acquisition and community integration. Although most Volunteers are able to move out on their own after an obligatory 4-6 month homestay (in addition to the training homestays), there is no guarantee that independent housing will be available.

Volunteers are assigned to both rural communities and small towns. Living conditions and transportation problems can be physically demanding. You will have to use the available transportation existing in your community (in most cases this includes regular or semi-regular service by pick-up trucks, vans, collective taxis, and motorcycle taxis). In some cases you may have to walk long distances to work engagements. Houses usually have corrugated steel roofs, walls of wood or cement block, and cement floors. They may or may not have amenities such as running water, electricity, or reliable phone service. Most communities have phone service within the community, although there are situations where Volunteers have to travel up to an hour to access service. Although some communities have electricity, a great many do not, and in all cases, power outages are common. Many of these communities are located along the Dominican-Haitian border, with more challenging living conditions.

Personal appearance is important for Volunteers representing the Peace Corps and Dominican partner agencies, particularly the Dominican Ministry of Education. Dominicans consider personal appearance to be an important indicator about a person, and a PCV’s appearance will influence his/her relationship with the community. Volunteers are expected to dress to Dominican standards for teachers.

Black/African American Volunteers may face unique challenges serving in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has a large Haitian immigrant population and is currently experiencing changes in citizenship laws. Black/African American PCVs are sometimes mistaken for Haitians, which can cause some uncomfortable situations, such as having their citizenship questioned. Despite these challenges, Volunteers of diverse racial backgrounds have served successfully in the Dominican Republic. Peace Corps’ pre-service training will address related concerns to prepare you for service and Peace Corps staff and fellow Volunteers provide a network of support.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Dominican Republic: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in Dominican Republic

  • Dominican Rep. may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Dominican Republic, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.

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