A changing educational culture in El Salvador


If you’ve read about Central America recently in the newspaper, then you know the region is entrenched in violence. Sadly, El Salvador, is now the most violent peace-time nation in the world and those who suffer are overwhelmingly children.

Improving education is a key component to combat violence! That’s why ConTextos raises the quality of education in El Salvador: to give kids better opportunities. Founded in 2011 at three public schools, ConTextos has already grown to 54 schools and works in gang prisons and the juvenile justice system implementing innovative teacher training, library development and writing programs, serving 400 teachers and nearly 30,000 kids!

In Central America, many adults never had the opportunity to read. In schools today, kids lack access to books and learn via rote memorization, copy and dictation. ConTextos establishes school libraries and trains teachers so that kids develop authentic literacy skills such as deep-thinking, analysis, interpretation and creativity. “These are the skills not just to be a better reader,” explained Gittler. “They’re the skills necessary to be a more active member of an effective society.”

ConTextos has demonstrated impressive outcomes in student reading levels. Before intervening in schools, most kids kindergarten-9th grade report having read only one book—and older kids have never read a novel. Within one-year, ConTextos transforms the educational culture so that books and conversation become routine. Assessments show that within three years of training, teachers get their third-graders to read at grade-level; international research shows that kids who have the skills to read at level by 3rd grade are more likely to avoid violence and poverty.

Check out more about ConTextos at their website and in their videos at their Vimeo page.