BEST IN CLASS – COMSA’S NEW SCHOOLS ARE ‘THE HOPE OF HONDURAS’
‘This school is the hope of Honduras’ – Rodolfo Peñalba, general manager, COMSA
It’s very common for coffee farmers to use the extra income that they earn from fair trade sales to ensure that the next generation of people in their community receive better educational opportunities than they were able to enjoy themselves.
Trade Aid’s Honduran coffee trading partner, COMSA, is taking this concept to the extreme – they now own and run two schools themselves, a pre-school and a full primary/secondary school. These schools are run by teachers employed by COMSA, who are using innovative teaching methods that the co-op has created itself and which it deems to be most appropriate and effective for its needs. Almost all of the funds required for the running of the schools come from the fair trade social premium that COMSA receives from its sales to Trade Aid and its other fair trade buyers, and the learning experience offered to students is considered to be far superior to anything else available within the Honduran schooling system.
The teaching methods used at both COMSA’s pre-school and also the higher level school have been developed in consultation with education practitioners, using elements that have been taken from various existing methods including the Finnish education system, Montessori, and the teaching philosophy of Glenn Doman. The techniques they have developed have caught the interest of researchers – many educators both from within Honduras and also from abroad come to study the teaching methods that COMSA have developed and are using here.
Pre-schoolers can be as young as four months old. The teaching practice used in these schools places high emphasis on positive reinforcement for children, creation of a fun learning environment, and frequent changes between activities (and play sessions). Most of the pupils who attend these schools are children of COMSA members, and are educated free of charge through scholarships.