Yspaniola’s Literacy Center serves over 50 children and young adults from the community of Batey Libertad. While most program participants attend public school, the schools’ quality of instruction is often low or inconsistent due to poor training and frequent teacher strikes. Students often complete primary school still unable to read at the most basic level. For this reason, Yspaniola’s program focuses entirely on building and improving literacy and writing skills. Students are taught in both classroom and one-on-one settings, and there is a special emphasis on all children receiving regular individualized attention.
Spanish Literacy Classes
The Literacy Center currently hosts three class levels: basic, intermediate, and advanced primary. The level of students in each class can differ widely due to diverse backgrounds. Because many students in the Batey are recent immigrants or come from Creole-speaking homes, Yspaniola’s staff and volunteers strive to supplement Spanish instruction with Haitian Creole, in order to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn classroom procedures and understand academic lessons.
In a school system where students only receive three to four hours of classroom instruction a day, students and parents alike appreciate the opportunities presented by the Batey Libertad Literacy Center. Students who attend consistently have shown rapid improvement, and more importantly, show great interest in continuing their studies past the primary level and seeking professional careers. To see the literacy evaluations that Yspaniola carried out in September and October of 2012, click here.
English Language Classes
The Literacy Center also hosts formal English lessons for about twenty youth and adults in the Batey. The students learn practical lessons on English speaking, grammar, and writing from a system built for Spanish-speakers. Yspaniola’s English students also receive the benefit of frequent conversation practice with visiting service-learning groups and interns.
History of the Center
In early 2012, Yspaniola interns started an informal tutoring program in an outdoor space to provide primary school students from the Batey the opportunity to practice reading and writing outside of school. Tutors brought books and other materials for students to work with and made lessons open to all children interested in participating. A number of youth from the community also helped tutor when their schedules permitted. Children enthusiastically welcomed the chance to read fun books in a relaxed environment, which previously was difficult given the limited resources and space in the community, and because the local school has children in the classroom for only a few hours each day. Through community meetings and focus groups with residents of Batey Libertad, it became clear that there was great interest in creating a Literacy Center. After finding a building in which to house the center, as well as painting, equipping, and decorating the center with members of the community, the Batey Libertad Literacy Center was inaugurated in July 2012.