2001 - With participation from 2 local universities we established that the number of out-of-school Peruvian children is 26%, not the 4% put out by the Government and quoted by UNICEF. We also opened our first centre, 1000 square meters, where we fed up to 300 street children each day, provided a shelter for those who we could get in from the street and help classes for all out-of-school children who cared to come.
2002-2004 We experimented with ways to effectively recruit these children (including involving their parents if not street kids), getting them educated up to the level required to enter school at or near the grade pertaining to each child's age.
2004-mid.2006 In late 2004 we hit upon our present system of locating informal schools within the poorest communities where we could prepare and educate children who had not yet migrated to the city centre and been tempted into drugs, crime and street life. We continually refine this model - including nutrition, medical help, clothing, psychological intervention with parents, etc - but the basic system is the same. Here is an example of the progress of one early group of children. We try to follow all our children year by year as they progress through the national education syst: "Where are they now?" (this is one of nearly 200 such groups we have worked with thus far), and here is a video depicting the life and times of one particular boy from that particular group: "Educating Jordan"
Based on early success we strained our resources and began opening centres and shanty schools throughout Peru. Our biggest gamble and most important objective was to open schools in the barrios of Lima. Lima is the world's second largest city by land covered (one of our schools is a 2.5 hour minibus ride from the city centre) and is expensive to operate in. It is also the seat of Government and, shamefully, 2 out of 5 Peruvian children failing to be educated live there! Bit by bit we proved that this system really works with every cultural type, in every geographic and climate variation in the country..
2006 . We launched our campaign to demonstrate the success of our program and to try to persuade the Ministry of Education to adopt it as the solution to this serious socio-economic problem. Our first approaches fell on deaf ears as the Government insisted our figures were wrong and theirs right. We were furious - `if the great quantity of out-of-school children "did not exist", then nobody would know to advocate for them! We recruited Lima University students and the press to review our research and join the debate. The result was a resounding victory. But it was not until a change of government that we found people in Education who were willing and able to work with us. Here is our 2006 campaign, "LET US LEARN!", and the only surviving press evidence that we may have shone some light on the 1.8 million Peruvian children discretely denied their right to education, "The Peruvian".
2007-2008 We carried on spreading our network of shanty schools throughout Peru, and farther into other South American countries where the problem of the poorest children being denied education is about the same as in Peru. We were pleasantly surprised in early 2007 when a Provincial Director from the Ministry (a Provence little served by our programme) proposed we enter a trial relationship with his department. We entered a contractual relationship whereby we would continue to operate one of our existing schools in the Provence, but the Ministry would provide the teacher and the venue. The relationship was agreeable and the results for the school involved were as good as those for our other schools. When the Ministry invited us to extend the relationship for another two years we gladly accepted. What we did not realise at the time we were approached in 2007 was that the branch of the Ministry which approached us had been newly created, its mission to ours! Finally, here was the Government Agency we had been hoping for; one that is commissioned to bring education to the population of children and young adults which is the same as our charter and objectives.
2009 - Beginning of the Endgame Since April we have received requests to work with several Provincial Directors of a new branch of the Ministry of Education, “CEBA“ (Centro de Educacion Basica Alternativa). Their model for educating out-of-school children resembles our model such that we can easily partner and ensure mutual success. We are glad to be invited by CEBA to partner with them in the schools they already have opened, and to have CEBA work with us in our schools. So far we have negotiated and signed (or are signing) contracts in 5 Provinces and are negotiating terms in several more. As we nurture this new and exciting relationship we will also maintain our existing schools.
We believe the combination of our experience and zeal together with the national reach of CEBA can achieve our shared mission.