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Quechua Benefit set out in 2009 to build Casa Chapi as a boarding house where the children, who lived in remote areas without access to a school, could live and attend public school in the nearby town of Chivay. After two years of operating the house, the Peruvian Ministry of Education asked if we would be willing to build a private school on the Casa Chapi campus. They were impressed by how well our children were doing in their public school classes. They wanted a private school managed by Quechua Benefit as a model in the highlands to encourage other nonprofit institutions to follow our example.
The truth is, we knew little about operating a school and we had no money to build the classrooms. But the Ministry of Education persisted and told us we could hold classes in the Snowmass Health Clinic onsite until we raised the money for the school building. The Ministry agreed to supply and pay for teachers, books, supplies and two meals a day for Casa Chapi’s operation.
The building was the easy part. The new project caused a dramatic change in the organization. We added 20 employees. We grew from 40 students to 75 primary students, and in 2017, we added a home in Arequipa for graduates of Casa Chapi where another 25 students can live and attend secondary school. In 2019 another home for secondary students opened in Yanahuara. The hard part was learning about the macro challenges that confront children who are born in the highlands.
A 2008 World Bank study ranked Peru FIRST in school attendance but LAST in school performance. We knew we needed to be different.
Here are some observations drawn from our years of experience operating the school:
• Reading Spanish is the most important skill we can teach first and second graders. Most of the Casa Chapi kids come to school from homes where Quechua is the spoken language. Thus, they are ill-equipped to join classes taught exclusively in Spanish, as mandated by the Peruvian government. Kids that cannot read are destined to drop out of school.
• Children need weekly, timed reading tests to increase their reading and comprehension skills. This reading program is having remarkable results among Casa Chapi students. First and second graders who originally spoke Quechua are learning to read Spanish, on average, at 34.5% above the standard set by academic reporting to the World Bank. The Ministry of Education has taken a substantial interest in our decision to teach reading as an additional workshop with specialized books and vocabulary aids. They want us to expand our reading program outside of Casa Chapi.
70% of rural Peruvians drop out of school, but once children can read at their grade level the dropout rate plummets. The dropout rate for Casa Chapi kids between primary and secondary school is less than 10%!
At Casa Chapi we want to honor the needs of our diverse population. Curriculum include classes taught in Quechua, including Quechua culture and language as well as values education.
Quechua Benefit believes that a quality education is the foundation from which, together, we will break the cycle of poverty. Each child who graduates from Casa Chapi will do so because of your generosity. They will go farther and earn more for their families in the future than anyone might have thought possible.
With your help, Casa Chapi has the capacity for 29% growth over the next five years. That means hundreds more children will have the opportunity to change their futures.
Your gifts of love in the form of donations are making the difference in their lives.
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