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SCHOOL/ A new kind of homeschooling in Quito

A representative of the international volunteer organization AVSI describes the new preschool program in Ecuador that is changing the lives of hundreds of children and their families.

in Quito, Ecuador in Quito, Ecuador

We are in Quito, at 3 thousand meters of altitude, in the invasiones, the fringe neighborhoods of the capital, which are the most populous and thrown together neighborhoods and are without services like water, sewers and paved roads. School recently started again even here. But it is a school that is truly special.

Don Dario Maggi (now bishop of Ibarra, ed) began this program in 2002, in the isolated countryside of the Manabí province, a hot place with no running water about 300 kilometers from Quito. Don Dario was struck by a certain way of teaching the youngest children before elementary school, which was invented in Galicia. It is an in-home preschool program for children, called "Pelca" (pre-school at home), which currently serves about 500 children in Ecuador and has accompanied another thousand in the last nine years with long-distance support.

The idea is very simple and starts from the fact that the parents and the family in general are responsible for the education of a child, and that they can achieve great results if they have the necessary knowledge. "When God gives children, He also gives parents the skills to educate them." If the first five years of a child's life are crucial for the growth of his personality, his parents, who, by nature, introduce him to reality, are also essential. What could be better, therefore, than a pre-school attentive to the needs of the child to discover the importance of the relationship with his parents and his life in the home and community as inputs for growth and learning? In short, it is a true and proper homeschool for parents who by choice or necessity spend their time at home.

Bringing education into people’s homes, especially in those isolated and difficult to reach villages, was an important step. It is not about beautiful houses and having everything one could imagine. No, here in the Andean area in which we work, the houses are simple and humble, a maximum of 25 square meters. The toilets are "out in the open" and the kitchen spaces are very small. In the best cases, life revolves around a table and a bed, which also serves as an armchair and sofa. Sometimes there are chairs. Around the houses, there is also a courtyard, yard or garden, a small piece of land.

Everything, really everything, revolves around the role of the family and the relationship of children to their parents, particularly their mothers. There are many young girls who are just 17 years old and who are already mothers. As a culture, they are completely devoted to their children. They have 4 or 5 on average and cook for them and take care of the house. The father is usually employed in odd jobs, almost always in the field of construction, as a builder, which allows him to earn enough to maintain his large family, though always with difficulty. They are very present and alive families, even if they are poor. They have a beauty that should be upheld.