Nicaragua is the second-poorest country in Central America, with 75% of the population living below the poverty line. Nicaragua’s lack of public investment in education is reflected in its low graduation rates: just 76% of students finish elementary school and less than 30% complete secondary school. Completion rates are worse in rural areas, where just 42% finish elementary and 10% complete secondary school.
Opportunity International has invested in Emprendedora, a rural technical high school. “Emprendedora” in Spanish means “the Entrepreneurship” school which is the central focus of this unique school model. Emprendedora represents an investment in long-term, sustainable education for rural communities. Opportunity invested in a model where students can finish high school AND be assured they are employable in the most promising industries in their area: tourism and agriculture. This school model focuses on business solutions to poverty. The school operates school-run businesses to provide students “hands on” experience and to generate self-sustaining revenue to cover the costs of school operations.
THE RURAL TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL
Opportunity believes in investing in future generations. In Nicaragua, where less than 10% of rural youth finish high school, we have invested in a rural technical high school model helps students develop skills in tourism and agriculture.
The technical high school operates several small businesses in tourism and agriculture for dual purposes:
1. To provide the highest quality learning and internship opportunities for our students.
2. By operating school-based businesses, Opportunity is assured of a long term financially self-sufficient model where the school will become self-financing through the sale of products from the small businesses it operates.
Our business plan projects 100% self-sufficiency within 5 years. By teaching young people skills specific to the local economy where they reside, we prepare youth for employment with both the theoretical and practical experience needed to successfully return to their family farm or business, be gainfully employed or continue on to college.
The development of a self-sustaining rural high school allows Opportunity International to build upon current community development work in Nicaragua while also serving as a model for other communities. The Entrepreneurial Technical High School is a model investment because it will provide students a quality technical education with the practical skills needed for economic, social and spiritual development—not only for themselves, but for their families and communities as well.
The technical high school model is unique in that it provides students with both a traditional high school diploma as well as a technical vocational certificate in either sustainable agriculture or tourism. By promoting sustainable development and encouraging youth entrepreneurship in these two promising industries, lasting transformation in rural Nicaragua is possible.