Nicaragua: Creating happier school environments to mitigate child labour

published 11 August 2021 updated 27 August 2021

The education union CGTEN-ANDEN is helping teachers in Nicaragua’s regions of León and La Dalia to diversify their teaching methods and use traditional music, dance and games to make school fun for students. The initiative is part of the union’s project to eradicate child labour.

On 29-30 July, the Education International member organisation hosted a workshop on traditional games for 103 teachers and 10 student leaders. The idea of using cultural heritage elements in the fight against child labour came from teachers themselves. Acting on this suggestion, the union mobilised to organise a series of trainings that cover traditional dance, music and games, allowing teachers to use their own pedagogical creativity to make school enjoyable for students.

"We integrate cultural dances, painting and traditional games into our teacher training. Teachers incorporate these elements into their classes, which makes school more fun and attractive for children. This is one of the ways to improve school attendance rates," explained Bernarda López, coordinator of this CGTEN-ANDEN project.

One of the student leaders who participated in the latest training stated: “I enjoyed the games we learned about with our colleagues and our teachers. I was happy to see our teachers full of energy and joy and eager to learn with us. Thanks to ANDEN, we had the opportunity to share this experience.”

Building trust and community

Following a series of trainings organised by the union, schools in the region have integrated handicrafts, traditional dance, drama and music classes into the syllabus as part of the vocational training and cultural education classes.

These activities are very popular with students, teachers and parents alike. Not only do the classes help improve attendance records, they offer a fun way for children to learn new skills and practical applications of other subjects such as geometry and physics.

A comprehensive strategy against child labour

This is just one of many activities implemented by the union to develop child labor-free zones in Nicaragua. The project also features activities such as:

  • Teacher trainings on child labour covering a wide range of topics, for example leadership skills, children's rights, negotiation techniques, as well as teaching materials
  • Summer schools where children can catch up on their learning instead of going to work
  • Actively engaging and building trust with the community. For example, throughout the pandemic, teachers have been visiting family homes to explain hygiene measures and share critical information.

As a result, alliances against child labour are being forged across communities.

“Before the project, there was little communication with the parents and indeed even with the students. But now we have learned how to talk to the parents. We visit them at their homes and we have earned their trust. There is a change of mentality in the community. They used to think it was normal for children to work but now they know a child’s place is in school.”

Gela Maria Cardenas, Buenos Aires School, La Dalia

This union project is implemented with the support of Education International and the GEW Fair Childhood Foundation.