Partners Honduras Provides the Tools for Success Through Education

Exequiel Antunez, Partners Honduras Board of Directors President, Sheila Gilmartin, Partners Volunteer Teacher, and Oscar Caceres Donaire, Director of Partners Honduras Education Committee.
POA-HN (Copy Edited Version)2_1_0.jpgSheila Gilmartin teaches in the “English Language Program” as a part of the Partners Honduras Chapter Volunteer Teacher Exchange in August 2019.

In 2017, the Partners Honduras Chapter launched a new education initiative to help prepare secondary school students to graduate in the country. These graduates often need more resources than are provided to develop the communication and technical skills necessary to succeed in today’s global workforce. 

According to research conducted by UNESCO, in 2014 only 48.4% of Honduran children are enrolled in lower secondary education, with this number dropping to an enrollment rate of 25% in upper secondary education. For this reason, the Honduras Chapter’s work is crucial to help more students complete their education. 

Honduras Chapter President Exequiel Antunez and Education Committee Coordinator Oscar Cáceres started an English program for eleventh and twelfth graders at Eben Ezer, a public school in Comayagua. The program then expanded to other public high schools across the city. At the same time, the Chapter developed an English course for public school teachers on weekends. Following these successes, the program enrolled a new cohort of 35 students in the English course the following year. 

In a special partnership with iEARN – USA in 2018, Cathy Healy, an executive director of the program, offered the opportunity for five teachers to be trained in an online course that uses “Global Projects,” as a new methodology to be implemented in classrooms. In the last trimester of the year, two more teachers also had the chance to be trained in this methodology.

Healy suggested two other goals to be accomplished with support from Partners’ Washington Chapter and Massachusetts Chapter. She first recommended that a specialist start an iEarn Chapter in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. The Honduras Chapter agreed, and they recruited Farah Kamal, who trained 28 teachers from the departments of Comayagua and La Paz in Honduras, as well as equal numbers in both Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Secondly, Healy proposed starting an exchange program with teachers from Honduras and the United States. As a result, Francia, a Honduran science teacher, created two school programs in Massachusetts. Through the exchange program, Francia gained new cultural knowledge of a foreign country, along with an opportunity to practice her English. Moreover, she learned about a different and successful educational system and how to implement it.

As a result of all this hard work, expert ESL teacher Sheila Gilmartin visited the Honduras Chapter. She brought valuable insight to the Education Committee and a significant learning opportunity for English teachers and students in the English Language Program.

The Honduras Chapter’s new educational initiative has already taken bold steps in helping secondary students not only graduate, but also gain the necessary skills to succeed in life. In the years to come, the Chapter expects to expand its outreach to equip even more students across Honduras with the educational tools they need to reach their full potential.    

POA-HN (Copy Edited Version)3_0.jpgFrom left to right: Exequiel Antunez, president of the Chapter; Sheila Gilmartin, Massachusetts exchange teacher; Carlos Miranda Canales, mayor of Comayagua; and Oscar Caceres: director of the Education Committee of the Honduras Chapter
About the Chapter: Since 1975, the Partners of the Americas Honduras Chapter has collaborated with the Vermont Chapter to promote sustainable economic practices in Honduras with support from the University of Vermont. The Honduras Chapter is also recognized for participating in Partners’ life-changing sport-for-development program, A Ganar, which operates in some of the country’s most dangerous cities to help youth gain employment and learn entrepreneurial skills.