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At a glance: Nicaragua

David's story: Life and learning at a child-friendly school in rural Nicaragua

A 10-year-old tells his story of education

PUNTA ARENA, Nicaragua, 9 August 2010 – David Zamora Muñoz, 10, is a bright, motivated pupil who lives with his two older brothers and their parents in a one-room house without electricity, outside the village of Palacaguina in a rural area of Nicaragua.

VIDEO: David Zamora Muñoz, 10, talks about going to a child-friendly school in rural Nicaragua.


David’s father, Celestino, is a tenant farmer whose education barely went past first grade. His mother, Cecilia, says she cannot read and write.

However, David dreams of becoming a doctor or a teacher one day. He and his brothers, Deybin and Francisco, get up before dawn each morning and help their father with chores around the land he tends. Then they walk five miles to school and back.

Committed to including all children

UNICEF and its development partners provide a number of facilities in David’s school that are unusual in Nicaragua – including separate toilets for boys and girls, and an inclusive policy that welcomes all children, whatever their physical and academic abilities.

© UNICEF video
David Zamora Muñoz (centre), 10, and other students at El Riito, a child-friendly school supported by UNICEF in Punta Arena, Nicaragua, where all students, including those with special needs, are welcome to enroll.

It is a small community school, with approximately 60 students divided between two mixed-grade classrooms and a kindergarten. As a ‘child-friendly school’, it is one that operates in the best interests of the child.

Educational environments at child-friendly schools – which UNICEF supports worldwide – must be safe, healthy and protective, endowed with trained teachers, adequate resources and appropriate physical, emotional and social conditions for learning.

David’s parents are delighted that all three of their boys are doing well at their school, El Riito, which means ‘little river’. Celestino makes every effort to spend time with his children and oversee their homework time. He is proud to be learning from his children. As they make progress with their writing, so does he.

Parental involvement

A popular boy at school, David is disciplined about his studies. His teacher says he always has a positive attitude and is kind toward his peers, willing to help others with their work.

© UNICEF video
There is running water at El Riito School in Punta Arena, Nicaragua, a child-friendly school supported by UNICEF, where personal hygiene and sanitation are key parts of the curriculum.

Although the Zamora Muñoz family lives in a community that has very little material wealth, there is great richness in the relationships among its people. This warmth shows in the school. Mothers of the students organize together to prepare the children’s daily lunches, bring in ingredients to share – such as fresh fruit, eggs and vegetables – and thereby supplementing the rice and beans the school receives in food aid.

Parents also help the director and teachers with activities during and after school, including sports and folkloric dancing.

Plans for the future

David says he loves school and could not imagine life without it. Without his lessons, he says, he would not know about other countries apart from his own. He talks about going to the capital, Managua, one day to study medicine. His mother says this would be a great honour for their family.

© UNICEF video
David Zamora Muñoz and his siblings have to walk hours every morning in order to attend school in rural Nicaragua.

His brothers, with whom he is very close, say they think perhaps of becoming teachers or engineers.

At home, David and his brothers have little in the way of playthings: just a few books about science and Spanish, their native language, and one plastic toy truck with a broken wheel. As a family, they pass time listening to the radio and talking about the cultural programmes they hear.

Sometimes, David accompanies his father to Bible meetings at the homes of neighbours, and he and his brothers like to play with their two cats, often by the outside open fire, where their mother cooks all their meals.

Education opens doors

David’s parents say their own education was disrupted by civil war in Nicaragua, which created a lack of opportunities for their generation. Today, they see many changes in the country, such as a government committed to working with development organizations, including UNICEF, in order to give children a better start in life.

Celestino knows his children will have more options than he had, and he is pleased they will not need to rely on farm work to make a living when they are older.

For his part, David concludes: “Life without school would be really bad.”



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