School In A Box/How to organize student life
What we have seen in previous chapters should give you a good sense of what the first steps are towards building a self-sufficient agricultural school.
This chapter builds on the previous ones. It clearly and succinctly outlines the foundations on which to create a safe, dynamic and sustainable co-existence between the members of the school community. Considering that the student population spends most of its time at school, this chapter focuses on the experiences of the student body. Life on campus needs to be built around a vibrant community where students can develop their skills and talents in a safe and friendly environment.
By now you should have an academic plan of the activities that will instill the entrepreneurial spirit in the students, faculty and staff as well as in all members of the community in general. You should have also examined what the best practices are in the administration and accounting of an agricultural school looking to achieve self-sustainability.
As we advance with the information in this manual and you complete the different activities, you will be able to evaluate the goals that were pursued and the way in which they were achieved. With that information you will be in a position to establish new challenges for your organization.
This chapter will serve as a guide for school directors, faculty and all those involved in the life of the students to learn how to share experiences, hopes, needs and desires.
- 1 BASIC PRINCIPLES
- 2 STUDENT ADMISSIONS
- 3 RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- 4 STUDENT SCHEDULE
- 5 CAMPUS LIVING
- 6 CO-EDUCATION
- 7 SEX EDUCATION
- 8 HEALTH AND SAFETY
- 9 LIFE AFTER GRADUATION
The goal of this section is to give you the basic principles that will affect the decisions around structuring student life.
a. Life as a student
Life as a student implies making a hearty commitment with the entire school community. It is about developing positive attitudes and an open mind in order to learn how to deal with the difficulties life is bound to bring along. The challenge consists of overcoming the obstacles and hurdles in life, hence the importance of educating strong, well-rounded persons of character.
Leadership, effective listening, team-work, solidarity, organization, responsibility and a sense of belonging are only a few abilities and skills that teenagers should develop during their schooling experience.
NOTE: This chapter will explore the basic principles that guide student life in a self-sufficient agricultural school. It will be especially useful for those schools that operate in co-educational settings composed of male and female student populations.
Student life in a co-educational FSS School looking to achieve self-sufficiency must be grounded on the following basic principles:
These principles merge all aspects of student life on campus and constitute the foundation on which all procedures, rules and policies will be based on.
- COMMUNITY LIFE STANDS FOR
The school represents a community where life truly unfolds jointly between all of its members. Community life entails a peaceful co-existence where the added value is found in the interactions and good relationships between the students, parents, teachers and school staff.
- DEMOCRATIC CO-EXISTENCE STANDS FOR
All activities being carried out in an environment of democratic co-existence between members of the community where the ultimate goal is the well-being of the entire group. Hence all decision-making will be beneficial for the whole community.
- ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT STANDS FOR
Active involvement includes all members of the school community. It is key that the community has a common place where they can all share and make significant contributions.
b. How can we guarantee the development of these three basic principles?
The basic principles of community life, democratic co-existence and active involvement will be built upon five core components of the student life at a self-sufficient agricultural school. These are:
1. FREEDOM WITH RESPONSIBILITY IS THE KEY
The community should seek mechanisms to guarantee freedom to each of its members while preserving the principles and rights of all community. Within a school community care must be taken to guarantee that freedom is encouraged but at the same time individual responsibility too.
2. A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
An effective learning process is not limited to the classroom. It goes beyond the instruction room to all areas of student life. Students are to be encouraged to transform any experience into a learning opportunity. For example the labor of the horticulture teacher must be founded on field trials, constant experimentation and analysis of practices and results.
3. LEARNING BY DOING
The methodology of the educational process at a self-sufficient agricultural school is based on the practice or “learning by doing”. This means that instruction cannot be limited to the classroom chalkboard just like theory should not be locked inside textbooks. It all has to be taken to a practical level and adjusted to real life experiences in order for it to be useful.
4. ROTATING SCHEDULE
Students are on permanent rotating schedule that split their time between the classroom and the practice sessions in the field so as to effectively relate theory and practice.
5. INFORMATION TOOLS
Students of the agricultural school cannot be isolated in their communities or restricted to farm life. They are to be global citizens devoted to the practice of agriculture in a responsible and efficient manner. Information tools such as access to internet and other forms of communication and information is vital.
The goal of this section is to review the different mechanisms applied in the student recruitment efforts of the school. It also serves to analyze the most effective student admission procedure.
Recruitment can be understood as the group of procedures that serve to attract qualified candidates for admission and life at an agricultural school. The recruitment process starts with the search for candidates and finishes when the school receives the admission application forms.
An educational institution can only come into being once it has clearly identified a population of potential candidates it wishes to incorporate. The following questions will help you do this:
• What is the student population that the school seeks to attract?
• What characteristics make up the profile of the potential student for this school?
• What recruitment, selection and admission procedures should the school use?
In trying to respond to these questions the mission and vision of the educational institution must be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Now lets consider the academic and student life characteristics of an agricultural school looking to achieve self-sufficiency:
• Theoretical and experimental programs of studies on agricultural and animal husbandry techniques
• Student population coming from poor rural communities.
• Boarding school - students, faculty and staff live at the school.
• “Learning by doing” instructional methodology.
• Economic education based on rural entrepreneurship.
• Financially self-sufficient institution, provider of an education that pays for itself through the implementation of a business plan.
| This is an example student profile from the San Francisco Agricultural School. Target student population: poor rural youth originating from families in the agriculture and animal production sector
b) 15 to 17 years old
c) Rural origin
d) Strong interest or experience in agriculture and farming
e) Eligible to participate in the school program of studies according to the academic and health requirements
There are three key characteristics that must be taken into account when deciding on the student profile of an agricultural school:
• Age range limits
• Academic requirements – basic studies completed
• Interests in agricultural and farming life
Once the target population and the student profile are defined the institution can go about deciding on its appropriate recruitment, selection and admission procedures. The recruitment process promotes the school and aims to attract prospective families. How and where does a school go about recruiting students? Some basic recruitment methods include:
Word of mouth advertising:
• In order to maximize the effectiveness of this form of recruitment, it is necessary to involve the entire school staff providing specific instructions as to how and where to promote the school, what to say and where to direct interested parties.
• Others sources of advertising include local publications, community radios, Internet etc.
Informational posters and brochures about the school:
• These materials should include the philosophy of the institution and other basic information such as location, contact person, telephone numbers, school hours and admission requirements.
• Care must be taken to ensure that all promotional materials are designed to capture attention and interest. The design has to be reader-friendly and enhanced with pictures. Moreover the distribution of the promotional materials is as important as their design! They have to be placed all over the area of influence of the school as well as in key spots of the community such as shops, offices, supermarkets, community centers, churches, partner institutions and the like.
| An example from the San Francisco Agricultural School
Capitalizing on the nation-wide extension of Fundación Paraguaya´s microfinance program, the San Francisco Agricultural School uses regional offices to promote the institution. Through its 18 regional offices in Paraguay, promotional materials are distributed to all corners of the country. Interested parties can also inquire about the school in any of its offices where they receive the contact details and admission requirements and are informed about the uniqueness of the program- an education that combines entrepreneurship with agriculture.
The combined promotional efforts of the school result in the attention of potential candidates for admission. Since these candidates will come with questions, a practical procedure has to be in place to effectively manage admission inquiries.
The guiding questions below will help to define this procedure:
• Where will admission inquiries be handled? The institution should consider having an admissions office, telephone number, email address and web page.
• Who handles these inquiries? Has the school identified what human resources will be in charge of providing this service?
• What procedures does it involve? Filling out forms, reviewing the academic history and personal profiles of the candidates etc.
As the admissions office goes about reviewing applications, a database of prospective students needs to be started. This list will serve as a working document containing the data of all potential candidates for admission. What follows is the timeline of tasks and activities involved in the recruitment and application period for the 2008 school year at the San Francisco Agricultural School.
|Date||Task||Persons involved||Person in charge|
|Oct 25-30, 2007||• Preparation of Admission Packets and Procedures||• School Administration||Academic Director|
|Nov 1 – Dec 31, 2007|| • Informational Letter e-mailed to Fundacion Paraguaya regional offices
• Meetings with regional school board representatives
• Meetings with partners and sister organizations
| • Students
• School Adminstration
• Fundación Paraguaya´s executive Team
|Academic Director, School Director|
b. How does a school select students from its pool of perspective candidates?
The selection process starts once the prospective families fill out the application form. This document includes:
• Student personal, academic and Family information (parents and siblings).
• Additional information of interest to the school such as: how did the student/family learn about the institution? Why are they interested in the school? What are the expectations of the student and / or family?
• The application form can also inquire about the area of influence of the school and the socio-economic background of the families.
Application Form of the San Francisco Agricultural School:
Apart from the application form, additional information is required to be able to compare candidates for admission in an objective fashion. Prospective student files must enclose the following documentation:
• Application form with parent signature • Photocopy of ID or passport • Photocopy of birth certificate • Immunization record • Transcripts or report cards from previous schools • Passport-size photos
While reviewing the pool of candidates for admission it is necessary to establish a specific procedure on which the admission decisions will be based. That is the school needs to decide on the eligibility criteria for admissions that will allow it to accept one student for admission and reject another objectively. This procedure generally includes a series of elements such as:
• Brief interviews with the candidates and their parents by one of the institution directors.
• Entrance examination. This evaluation can take several forms: - Admissions exam on different subjects such as language, writing, mathematics and fieldwork practices. - Written compositions or essays written by the students on pre-assigned topics. - Pre-entry internship for a fixed amount of time. The main objective of the internship is for the student to experience life in a boarding school and participate in an agricultural program of studies that includes classroom time as well as practice sessions in the field.
Example of an interview form used by the San Francisco Agricultural School as part of its admissions process.
Candidate Name: ………………………………………………………
Parent or Guardian Name: ……………………………………………
• Why would you like your child to attend the Agricultural School?
a) To learn agricultural and farming skills
b) To be able to attend university upon graduation
c) To get a job
d) Due to financial problems
e) Due to behavioral problems
f) Other reasons: (please specify)
• How did you learn about the agricultural school?
a) From current student b) Former student (alumni)
d) Partner organization e) Local government
f) Press or media
• Has any member of your family attended our institution? If so, please describe their experience at the Agricultural School.
• Are you willing to fully accept the commitment attached to the education of your son or daughter at the Agricultural School?
• Are you willing to become involved in the education of your son or daughter and following up on his or her progress?
• Are you willing to attend meetings to be informed of the progress achieved by your son or daughter?
• Are you willing to accept the consequences of disciplinary action taken against your son or daughter due to misconduct?
• What are your expectations of the Agricultural School
• Please describe your son or daughter……………………………
• Additional comments:……………………………………………….
A school administrator conducts the interview with the student and parents in a relaxed and informal setting. The main objective of this procedure is to ask questions and encourage comments from the prospective family so as to get a general feeling for who they are and their background.
Perhaps the most important phase of the admissions process is the pre-entry internship. This provides the students with a unique opportunity to experience for themselves what attending an agricultural school is really about. As part of this experience they are asked to comply with a full schedule of activities, classes and fieldwork practices plus the responsibilities attached to the boarding experience.
In order to have a better understanding of what the pre-entry internship entails, below is a description of the activities that a student is asked to do during the pre-admission internship period at the San Francisco Agricultural School.
≈At Fundación Paraguaya’s San Francisco Agricultural School candidates for admission are required to complete a pre-entry internship. During this period students participate in agricultural activities such as farming crops, also animal husbandry activities such as milking cows and other types of chores such as the upkeep and cleaning of their rooms and academic and recreational activities.
• A schedule is prepared for the entire internship period and candidates are divided into work groups.
• All fieldwork practices are supervised by a staff member from the school with expertise in that particular area.
• During the internship period candidates also participate in a workshop focused on entrepreneurial skills based on the Junior Achievement methodology. The workshop is composed of different types of group activities with the objectives of exploring the values and philosophy of the Agricultural School while awakening the entrepreneurial spirit within the students.
The importance of the “learning by doing” approach in life, team work and group building activities are emphasized along with organizing a business.
The Entrepreneurial Skills Workshop in more detail…
Activity Name: "Getting to know each other"
Students are divided into small groups where they share information about themselves, their origin and their life.
Sebastián Escobar from the community of Cerrito belongs to the Toba Qom indigenous community. He enjoys playing football and deeply admires his brother. Sebastián wishes to finish his secondary studies to attend university because he wants to be a veterinarian.
Liz Marina Gonzalez from Curuguaty finished 9th grade as the top student in her class. She admires her mother for her strength and resilience and takes pleasure in reading. Her favorite novel is “Don Quijote de la Mancha”. Upon graduation Liz Marina would like to pursue university studies in rural business administration.
Tito Acosta comes from the town of Lima in San Pedro. He deeply appreciates his mother because she treats him well. In the future Tito would like to be a veterinarian and run his own consultancy firm.
Others like Marcelo Cámeron dream about starting their own cattle ranch. Marcelo who is from the city of Asunción attended the “Adela Speratti” school, where his strongest subject was science. His favorite book is “The agricultural mentor” by Moises Bertoni. He would like to be a veterinarian and a university professor one day.
14-year old Maricel Merlo from San Pedro has experience working in her family´s farm, where they cultivate cotton and sesame among other crops. Maricel’s strongest subject is math and after secondary school she would like to study agricultural engineering at university.≈
►Other fundamental aspects of the student selection process are:
Class size: depending on the size of the school the capacity of the incoming class needs to be determined. That is the maximum number of students that can be admitted per year and per grade level. If the school is co-educational class balance also has to be taken into account. Thus a maximum number of male and female students must be established. Another factor to take into account is the capacity of the classrooms and student residence halls.
Application period: although applications are generally accepted all year long, schools tend to have an official application period set usually one to four months before the beginning of a new school year.
Application fee: schools usually charge a minor fee related to the costs of processing an application. The set amount is generally due when the application packet is submitted to the school.
Practical aspects: considering the student profile of the agricultural school candidates for admission must be advised to prepare to stay at the school as part of their application period. Hence, they should have their personal belongings, tools, school supplies and documents ready.
An example from the San Francisco Agricultural School:
For the three-week pre-entry boarding period candidates for admission must bring the following:
1. Grade 9 report cards.
2. Notebook and school supplies.
3. Farming tools such as machete, hoe etc.
4. Sufficient clothing
5. Bed clothes and mosquito net
6. Personal effects
7. Health Certificate
8. Birth Certificate and residency
Example of the activity schedule for the pre-entry internship period at the San Francisco Agricultural School:
|7.30/11.00 a.m.|| Student arrivals
|Start-up activities, Welcome, Staff Presentation, Skills Workshop||Tour of the Facilities||Field work||Field work||Field work||Field work|
|1 p.m.||Skills Workshop|| Tour of the
|Technical Presentation||Technical Presentation||Technical Presentation||Sport|
|4.00/5.00 p.m.|| Prep for Classes /
| Prep for Classes /
| Prep for Classes /
| Prep for Classes /
|5.00 p.m.||Academic classes||Academic classes||Academic classes||Academic classes||Academic classes||Time off|
|8.p.m.||Presentation on Boarding School Life|
c. Student admission
Admission requirements in an educational setting vary depending on the type of school primary, secondary, high school and grade level. For every case there will be a specific set of requirements that need to be clearly defined. These requirements generally refer to the following:
• Academic history and qualifications
• Origin and experience
• Conditions specifically tied to the curriculum of the Self-Sufficient Agricultural School
Admission requirements will be defined taking into consideration the type of student that the institution seeks to educate in accordance with the mission, vision and philosophy of the school.
An example of Admission requirements for Year 1, San Francisco Agricultural School:
1. Rural origin, coming from poor families with scarce resources to provide educational opportunities for their children.
2. Authentic agricultural interest or vocation.
3. Access to a small family property with minimal agricultural facilities where the student will be able to put into practice what he or she learned.
4. Up to 17 years of age.
5. Successful completion of the grade 9 program of studies with a grade point average of at least 3 and a satisfactory overall behavior grade.
6. Good health
7. Attend a preliminary interview at the school accompanied by the parents.
8. Provide basic personal and family information.
9. Pass the admissions exam, which evaluate the following subjects: math, language, science and social studies.
10. Successful completion of the fieldwork practice.
The School reserves the right to reject applications that do not comply with the general and/or specific conditions for admission to the school Applications for admission are processed after reviewing the individual files of the candidates and the results of their evaluations. Final decisions will be made taking into consideration the spaces available per grade level. Specific admission procedures will vary from school to school.
In order to make the transition to the Agricultural School as smooth as possible, admitted candidates need to be notified in advance of their successful completion of the admission process. This will allow the students and their families to prepare their move to the boarding school and arrange all additional requirements. These generally include original academic and personal documentation and other practical aspects such as tools, school supplies, clothes and personal effects. Additional Requirements:
Requirements for Admitted Students to the San Francisco Agricultural School of the Fundación Paraguaya:
• Original birth certificates with three copies.
• Immunization record.
• Transcript or School Certificate up to grade 9.
• Three copies of the student’s I.D.
• Four passport-size photos.
• Tools: rake, hoe, machete and metallic broom.
• Personal hygiene products.
• Bedclothes: 4 sheets, 1 blanket, 2 pillowcase, mosquito net and 2 towels.
• Shoes: work, sports and school
• School supplies: 4 notebooks, pen, pencil, eraser, ruler etc.
• Optional items for fieldwork: plastic gloves and rain boots.
• Other items: 2 padlocks, thermos or water bottle and hat.
School Uniform: light-blue shirt with school logo for regular classes, blue jacket
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The goal of this section is to review the rules and regulations that help keep the school environment safe and intellectually challenging. It addresses the different needs and responsibilities of the parties involved in the living and learning process: students, parents, teachers and the school administration.
a. School rules
In a school, rules that aim to regulate coexistence must guarantee the rights and responsibilities of each member of the school community. But how can this be achieved in an inclusive way without trespassing on the rights of others? When drafting the school handbook it is imperative to seek the involvement and active participation of representatives of the different campus groups that will be obliged to respect these rules.
b. What defines a right?
In general terms, a right constitutes an entitlement that is legally or morally correct. Rights are understood as being egalitarian in that the same rights are granted to all people. In a Self-Sufficient Agricultural School student rights will be defined based on the following set of fundamental principles: education, participation, freedom, health and safety personal & professional development.
| What follows is the Bill of Rights of the students of the San Francisco Agricultural School.
1. Registration and enrollment at the Agricultural School after successful completion of the application.
2. Room and board provided during the entire schooling period at the Agricultural School and during the pre-entry internship.
3. In the event of disciplinary action being applied to the student, freedom to respectfully address the claims through the Residence Hall officer, advisor, parent or guardian.
4. Receipt of proper medical assistance in the event of accidents or sickness suffered at the school.
5. Receipt of educational instruction in accordance to the content of the curriculum and the general objectives of the school.
6. Participation in quizzes, tests and exams according to the regulations of the Evaluation, Grading and Promotion Handbook.
7. Receipt of academic support to improve performance as needed.
8. Counseling services for the student to discuss behavior issues before further disciplinary action is taken.
9. Break or vacation period based on conduct of no more than 50 days in the months of January and February according to the schedule assigned by the school.
10. Opportunities to review projects and test results with the teaching staff.
11. Permission to be absent from the school in the event of serious illness or emergencies in the family of the student.
c. Who watches over the rights of the students?
Students should be taught to be the main guardians of their rights. This is an integral part of their general development and begins within their own peer groups. The school administration should also make sure that the students´ rights are respected.
Moreover it is the responsibility of the entire community, students, parents and teachers, to establish its own set of rights and monitor the enforcement of those rights.
Here we have an example of the rights of the parents and guardians of the students at the San Francisco Agricultural School:
1. Be informed of the general organization and function of the school, its objectives, and the procedures by which it achieves these goals.
2. Receive regular scheduled reports on the behavior and academic performance of their children.
3. Freedom to express opinions and personal points of view, to make suggestions, claims and inform the school administration of the expectations and interests of the family.
4. Opportunities to support the school in its efforts to provide the best education possible for their children.
d. What is the school's responsability?
Our responsibilities are our moral obligations or duties. In order to guarantee the rights that protect our own development and safety, we must assume the responsibility of respecting and validating the rights of others. In a community, the rights of the people will survive to the extent that they all comply with their responsibilities. When a member of the group does not adhere to his or her responsibilities, the rights of all are violated.
Code of Responsibilities of the students of San Francisco Agricultural School:
San Francisco Agricultural School
A. General Terms:
1. To complete enrollment at the Agricultural School, all documentation required by the school regulations must be attached to the student application form and submitted by the appointed day.
2. The Acceptance of the School Regulations form must be submitted with the signature of the parent or guardian.
3. Students must be in full compliance with the school’s policies and show full commitment to work to the best of their abilities.
4. Know and respect the evaluation, grading and promotion regulations handbook.
5. Arrive on time to classes, fieldwork practices and other school events. Late arrivals will be recorded in the student file in all cases and can result in more serious disciplinary measures.
6. Absences due to illness must be certified by the Student Residence Officer and reported to the Academic Coordinator and School Director.
7. Complete all tasks as assigned in the course of the program.
8. Contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of school facilities, resources, furniture and supplies.
9. Cooperate with the administration and directors in the tasks assigned.
10. Show respect for our national symbols at all times.
11. Observe the rules of politeness, courtesy and personal hygiene at all times.
12. Help maintain a clean and healthy school environment.
13. Abide by the disciplinary measures set out in the Student Handbook and School Regulations.
14. Be supportive and willing to work together with other members of the student body. Show respect and consideration towards the rest of the community of students, teachers and school staff. Avoid all types of negative behavior such as aggressiveness, violence and other offensive activities including bullying both within and beyond the school limits.
15. Coordinate personal visits on the days and times established by the school authorities.
16. Take responsibility for damage caused to school facilities, either on purpose or as a result of negligence. In such cases parents will be held liable and required to pay for the damages within the period of time established by the school. In the event that the responsible parties cannot be identified, the entire class will be held accountable.
17. Serve duty on the days and times assigned by the school including weekends and holidays.
18. Students shall provide their own school supplies, clothes, personal belongings and other materials as required by the school administration.
19. Carry student identification document at all times.
20. Respect the school dress code for the different type of activities, including regular classes, fieldwork practices, physical education and gala events.
21. Follow the student schedule prepared by the school and participate in all of the listed classes
22. Observe the Library and Computer Lab Regulations when making use of these facilities or any other area with school resources.
When engaged in fieldwork, is a mandatory part of the curriculum, the students of the San Francisco Agricultural School have a different set of specific responsibilities.
These are the subsequent responsibilities:
• Students shall arrive to these classes on time, wearing the appropriate uniform and with the required tools.
• In the event the student cannot attend fieldwork practice, the absence must be authorized by the chief of section and reported to the student monitor on duty, the residence hall officer and the academic director.
• After practice tools shall be returned to the tool storehouse.
• Students that leave tools unattended are subject to disciplinary action.
• Students will follow instructions received from the chief of section or monitor.
• Failure to follow instructions can result in disciplinary action.
• Student progress in each production area will be noted in the record books. This will serve to track the completion of tasks per student in every area of production.
• Breaks during fieldwork will be allowed in accordance to the specific regulations set by the school.
• Individual students or groups of students that take breaks or stop work at times outside the schedule will be subject to disciplinary action.
• Likewise, if students engage in collective efforts to bring the work of a unit to a halt, they will be subject to disciplinary action that will impact their grade in the subject matter.
• Equipment such as radios, cellular phones and others that can serve to distract student attention are not allowed during fieldwork.
• Students are responsible for the completion of the tasks assigned. Unless instructed otherwise by the chief of section or relevant personnel, students cannot delegate their responsibility to students of different sex or of lower grades levels unless it is with good reason.
Parents are also asked to adhere to certain rules and regulations that will serve to guide the development of healthy relationships:
San Francisco Agricultural School Parent/Guardian Responsibilities:
a) The parent should be the primary educator of their children.
b) They should act as role models for their children.
c) Be respectful of the school community.
d) Teach problem-solving skills to their children.
e) Be supportive throughout their children’s educational process.
f) Know and respect school regulations.
g) Cooperate actively with school initiatives.
h) Attend parent conferences organized by the school on issues regarding their child´s development.
The school faculty and other staff also observe a set of responsibilities related to their role in the educational community:
San Francisco Agricultural School School Staff Responsibilities
The general and specific responsibilities of the staff members of the institution are those valid for all the Agricultural Schools of the country, outlined in Resolution #621 ruled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Paraguay.
The School Staff includes:
The Director General, Academic Director.
Curriculum Coordinator, Technicians and Specialists.
Teaching staff and other school employees.
Responsibilities of the School Administration, Teaching Staff and General Services Personnel of the San Francisco Agricultural School:
Staff members of the school have the following responsibilities:
1. Provide a safe and active school environment for the students to live and study in.
2. Fulfill his or her duties with a high degree of dedication and effort and encourage the active involvement of the students in their education.
3. Provide constant guidance, support and orientation to the student body both in the classroom and fieldwork activities.
4. Foster a healthy environment where tolerance, ethical behavior and integrity are respected.
5. Display professional conduct at all times and to serve as role models for the students.
6. Know, respect and enforce the school regulations.
7. Contribute to the development of the students’ problem-solving skills.
8. Provide a positive, challenging and successful learning environment.
9. Cooperate with the school in creating an environment free of discrimination, sexual harassment and all forms of offensive behavior including:
• Unprovoked sexual remarks.
• Proposals to trade benefits for sexual favors.
• Retaliation or threats of retaliation.
• Sexual looks, gestures and displaying objects or images with obscene references.
• Making degrading comments or jokes that include offensive words.
• Making sexual references using degrading means such as offensive words, comments, disrespectful letters, messages or invitations.
• Aggression or physical attacks such as blocking someone’s way or preventing someone from moving.
The goal of this section is to illustrate how the students spend their day participating in activities including fieldwork, academic classes, residential chores, sports, recreation and entertainment.
Students have a very busy schedule during the week with school days beginning early in the morning and finishing late at night. During the weekends students can visit their families, relatives and friends outside of the school. However the nature of the agricultural life demands that certain chores still be completed on non-school days, like milking the cows or feeding the animals. Hence a rotating schedule of student monitoring duties is necessary to ensure the successful completion of all agricultural and animal-husbandry.
a. What is the student schedule like?
A schedule of classes in an agricultural setting is composed of classroom instruction, fieldwork practices and the usual breaks for recreation, relaxation and meals.
Here is a schedule of the activities carried out by the students at the San Francisco Agricultural School:
|TIME||CLASSROOM SESSION||FIELD WORK SESSION|
|5.45||Wake up call||Wake up call|
|6:00||Dorm clean-up||Compost Preparation|
|7:30||Class start||Field work start|
|11:00||Classes||Field work end|
|13:00-16:00||Afternoon classes begin||Afternoon field work begins|
|16.00||Afternoon snak||Afternoon snak|
|16:15-18.00||Sport and extra-curricular activities||Sport and extra-curricular activities|
|18:10||Study hall||Study hall|
|20:30-21:45||Leisure time||Leisure time|
|21:45||Quiet time||Quiet time|
The different groups of students rotate between the classroom and the fields participating in instructional activities that follow the “learning by doing” approach.
b. What type of activities take place in the classroom?
The theoretical foundations of the school curriculum are covered in the classroom where the teacher and students explore the concepts and develop specific subject matter. Traditional teaching resources such as lectures, textbooks and notebooks support classroom instruction. Library resources and computers are also available to aid in the learning process.
c. What type of activities take place outside the classroom?
Fieldwork is the main activity outside the classroom. During these activities students have the opportunity to put into practice the concepts and ideas explored in the classroom and apply their knowledge. Students rotate between the different productive units in the field to maximize learning and gain practical exposure to the diverse areas of agriculture and animal husbandry. Students are exposed to different production units in their fieldwork practice. These include the vegetable garden, milking station, chicken-coop, carpentry and metal workshops, dairy products plant and the hotel among others.
d. Are sports and recreational activities included in the student schedule?
Sports and recreational activities hold a very special place in the schedule of the students of an Agricultural School! Considering that the regular schedule of classes and fieldwork practices is intense, some moments of leisure must be included to allow the students to rest their minds and participate in non-academic group activities. A healthy balance of different type of activities must be sought to achieve the holistic development of the student body.
Different types of recreational activities can be included in the schedule of classes. In the months of cold weather students can participate in chess or literature clubs, for instance. Other options include physical education classes, dance lessons, debate forums and movie sessions. Warm months of the year are ideal to practice team sports such as football, basketball and volleyball. Nature-oriented activities like hiking are also a good way to enjoy contact with nature.
The purpose of extra-curricular activities at school exists to foster students’ creativity, communication skills and teamwork. Moreover, these activities represent an opportunity for the students to further develop their learning skills and apply concepts in different settings.
Below is a description of some of the recreational activities at the San Francisco School:
• Students have different places available where they can spend their free time. These spaces are: the TV room, the computer lab, the central patio, the board games area and the sports fields. However, students are expected to follow the established hours and regulations when using these areas. Above all, they are asked to respect the rest hours of the other members of the school community when using the recreational facilities.
• The TV room is available at certain periods for the students to use. When doing so they must show good behavior at all times, avoiding fights and quarrels with the other classmates in the room. They are also responsible for taking care of the furniture and equipment in the hall.
• The central court of the school is a very popular spot where the students like to spend their free time. They use this space to engage in long conversations, sing and play, always displaying good behavior and contributing to keep the area clean.
• As part of their extra-curricular activities the students enjoy participating in discussion groups on different topics. In order to be eligible to take part in this type of activity they are required to submit a statement of interest that along with their academic record and fieldwork evaluations, gives them access to the discussion groups. The minor review process involved in this activity contributes to strengthen their commitment and improve the quality of their contributions to the discussions.
Below are examples of interdisciplinary activities at the San Francisco Agricultural School:
One of the students’ favorite activities football is practiced by both boys and girls and serves to bring students together. Street football constitutes an important source of motivation and entertainment for the entire student body. Students enjoy participating in school organized football tournaments as well as external competitions. One such event is the tournament organized by the South American Street Football Network every year where students have the opportunity to interact with teams from other countries.
Here the students engage in all sorts of cultural activities such as drama, music and traditional Paraguayan dance. The activities developed in this center are presented in special celebrations as entertainment pieces. In some cases the students are invited to participate in the cultural festivals of the area where they gladly show their talents. The Cultural Center generates its own resources in support of its activities. The members of this center all contribute to the organization of the activities, events and elections are held periodically to choose the authorities that will run the center.
Different programs have been developed by the students to serve the community around the school. Some groups of students give bible classes at the local church, others organize visits to the schools in the area to play games with the children while others participate in regional health and immunization campaigns.
Amigos de las Américas
This is a program in which students do volunteer work during their winter holiday. Students partner with American volunteers working in rural communities where they build outhouses, help with family vegetable gardens and participate in vaccination campaigns.
These are very popular among the students! The movies are shown and then the screening is followed by a lively debate session, stimulating thinking and personal opinion. A group of students is in charge of surveying the interests of the entire student body and creating a movie night schedule accordingly. The schedule is then posted all around the school.
Chess clubs, cultural visits and crafts workshops are other activities of interest for the students.
The goal of this section is to detail the discipline system used at the school. It should be based on self-control, formative correction and the quest for better co-habitation between the students and their institution.
a. School discipline
Discipline at the School should be considered a value, which is conducive to the successful governance of the school. It should foster respect and be in line with the premise of Freedom with Responsibility.
A set of rules and standards of behavior must be put into practice. Failure to comply must bring consequences that can range from a simple reprimand to suspension and expulsion from the institution.
b. Boarding school rules
All areas of a boarding school should assume certain pre-established rules and the student residence should encompass the values embraced by the school they are attending. Students must keep the dormitories clean and orderly, paying close attention to the regulated details.
Here is an example of areas of concern for the students, and what would be expected in relation to them:
Lockers: Each student is responsible for his/her locker, which is to be kept closed and locked. Lockers must be opened if requested by the Head of Dormitories or Head of Boarding.
Beds: Beds must always have sheets and be well made. No towels are allowed to be spread on the beds.
Clothing: Clothes are to be kept clean and organized in the lockers. Laundry is to be done regularly and in the provided facilities.
Shoes and Towels: Should be kept with proper ventilation and hygiene in the appropriate places.
Personal objects and valuables: These should be avoided! Valuables such as jewelry and cell phones etc. are not necessary for agricultural life.
A good option is to appoint a student Head of Dormitory for each room. This person will cooperate with the Head of the Boarding School to guarantee peaceful co-habitation. These Heads of Dormitories should be seniors who have excelled in the following skills: responsibility, leadership, order, discipline and oral communication.
The functions of the heads of dormitories include:
1. Guiding fellow students to maintain orderly rooms and discipline within the dormitories.
2. Being familiar with the academic and personal situations of members of the dormitories.
3. Informing the Head of Boarding of problem situations that occur within the rooms under his/her care.
4. Ensuring a harmonious and respectful relationship among all members of the dormitory.
5. Suggesting practical and creative solutions to problems that may arise in the dormitories, encouraging self-control and independence among peers.
6. Participating and making suggestions at meetings of Heads of Dormitories.
1. ORDER AND CLEANLINESS
All members of the educational community at the School should contribute to maintaining order and cleanliness in every area of the School and should respect the supplies and facilities. For example the responsibility for cleaning different areas of the School should rotate on a weekly basis among cleaning groups. All facilities including restrooms, should be kept clean and organized. All garbage should be separated, especially organic and inorganic waste and placed in their respective containers.
2. DRESS AND APPEARANCE
It is very important for students to maintain a clean, neat and respectful appearance according to rules of civility and decorum. Outside school hours students are allowed to dress as they please while maintaining respect for others and dignity for oneself.
3. AT THE DINNING HALL
A careful conduct of the manners and rules of civility must be followed at the table. If for any reason a student is unable to join the rest at the dining table he or she must properly inform the Head of Boarding or Dormitory. Students should respect the food set aside for their colleagues who are working in the field or other areas of the school. Punctuality for each meal and orderly arrival to the dining hall is important.
4. PHONE CALLS
We recommend that calls from relatives be received during hours scheduled for this purpose. Students should not receive calls outside the scheduled hours because they interfere with normal activities.
Socializing is very important for students. Family members can visit within the established hours and places designated for visitation. In order to guarantee the safety of the students and of the school these visits should be reported and announced to school authorities.
6. MISCONDUCT AND CONSEQUENCES
It is always important to have a system of discipline although it should not be equated with authoritarianism. Keep in mind that students at this age are sensitive and go through physical, psychological and emotional changes.
Below is a list that could be used when creating a disciplinary system:
1. Not following one of the residential rules such as untidy dorm rooms.
2. Refusing to participate in an activity organized by the school.
3. Disrespecting a member of the school community.
4. Destroying materials, tools or other objects that belong to the school.
5. Causing minor damage to the facility or materials of others due to negligence.
6. Using profane language.
7. Failure to wear the school uniform.
1. Recurrence of minor faults.
3. Engaging in all serious forms of disrespect, bullying, insults and physical abuse.
4. Unexcused absences.
5. Introduction, consumption and possession of drugs, alcoholic beverages and all toxic products.
6. Possession of weapons or objects that threaten the personal safety and the safety of others.
7. Being party to or taking part in actions of serious misconduct.
8. Failure to respect the physical infrastructure of the dormitories and entering prohibited sectors of the campus.
9. Physical contact, which exceeds the boundaries of a healthy and respectful interaction between peers, teachers and staff in general.
10. The cultivation of prohibited and illegal plants such as marijuana.
c. How do we apply the disciplinary measures?
The implementation of these measures is at the discretion of school authorities. We present a model for the application of disciplinary measures below.
For minor faults, corrective measures may be as follows:
1. Oral or written reprimand.
2. Denial of daily recreational activities.
3. Community service.
For major faults, corrective measures may be as follow:
1. Suspension and subsequent summoning of parents or tutors to the school campus.
It is helpful to have an effective mechanism for the implementation of disciplinary measures as mentioned above.
We suggest the following:
1. Create a disciplinary Board, which may consist of members of the school administration and those responsible for the boarding school
2. Parents or guardians must sign a document during registration confirming that they agree with existing rules and corresponding penalties, which may result depending on the severity, in expulsion.
3. Teachers and other school staff members will inform the Director and Parent of student misconduct.
4. The school director, the academic director and the faculty will evaluate faults directly related to academics before being decided upon.
5. Major faults directly related to cohabitation within the dormitories are the responsibility of the Disciplinary Board comprised of members directly involved in running the boarding school.
Once each case is examined, the appropriate measure will be applied and the director will be subsequently informed about the decision and the reasons that have led to that decision.
The goal of this section is to highlight the necessity to educate women around the world, especially in developing countries.
a. What does co-education entail?
Coeducation is a system in which students of both sexes coexist in the same classes, colleges and schools. As the roles of men and women evolve, the educational structure must be flexible and adapt to these changes.
To this end the school uses an educational model of Coeducation, consistent with the institution’s vision and mission of promoting development.
It should consider the following items as part of its specific objectives:
• Promoting equality for women in rural areas.
• Developing educational projects that involve both men and women.
• Encouraging staff growth and development and demonstrating commitment to the entire educational community.
• Promoting the family as a model of social coexistence.
• Promoting education emphasizing a natural coexistence between men and women.
• Facilitate integration and development of the cognitive and emotional world of men and women so that it is equal and complementary.
• Promote the use of judgment and expression to eliminate the restraining mentality of subservience and dependence.
• Encouraging learning within an environment of respect to diversity and gender in a continuous, permanent and participatory process.
• Encouraging entrepreneurship, friendship and teamwork.
b.How are these co-educational principles developed at the school?
The principles must be present in the plan of activities of the co-educational component through the following activities:
1. Workshops for teachers with the aim of sharing experiences and planning for the upcoming school year. Work with teachers to incorporate the fundamental concepts of co-education and entrepreneurship into the curriculum.
2. Planning the integration of the co-educational model within the School’s Education Project (SEP).
3. Recruiting women to serve as Heads of Dormitories for the introduction of the co-educational model.
4. Training of teachers and staff assigned to coeducation.
5. Appropriate infrastructure.
6. Creating awareness among male students regarding women’s issues.
7. Hosting female students.
8. Creating a sense of belonging and group cohesion between both sexes.
9. Introduction of female students into academic and field activities within the coeducational model.
10. Creating support groups among mothers of students, volunteers, Fundación Paraguaya staff and other local groups.
c. Institutional communication
There are several ways in which to coordinate co-educational activities with other institutions that promote women’s rights and issues, whether in the community or beyond.
• Updating the database of associated entities, which can be done through private companies, governmental entities, other educational institutions, NGOs or the church.
• Conducting meetings in order to introduce the school to these organizations.
• Organizing lectures for students in various fields in order to acquaint them with the activities of the organizations in these fields.
d. Monitoring and evaluation
Remember the importance of implementing monitoring and evaluation tools as a way to integrate co-education into the school’s everyday practice. Implement the tools for monitoring and evaluating the performance of teachers and the development of a curriculum within a framework that respects the elements of coeducation.
Design and implement evaluation indicators for the control of the accomplishments of the project’s general objectives, and use them as a tool for regular evaluation meetings and sharing of experiences with principals, teachers, students, counselors, volunteers and family.
Feedback on the success of the co-education model can be obtained through student evaluations like the one below:
Opinion survey for first year students:
We are permanently evaluating our educational process at the school and wish to gauge your opinion in order to keep improving.
- How do you feel at the school? :
- If you had to evaluate how you feel after a semester at the school, what would you say? (Mark with an X)
1.- Very Good 2.- Good 3.- Fair 4.- Less than fair 5.- Bad
- Does your opinion vary? (Mark with an X)
1.- Always 2.- Sometimes 3.- Rarely 4.- It remains the same
- Please help us identify:
Things you don’t like -Things you like -What can be improved
- In terms of respect and relationships, what can we improve?
Among males- Among females- Between males and females?
- What can you improve about yourself?
- What would you like to ask, suggest or express to the following entities in order to improve the school:
To Teachers -To the Director- To the Head of Boarding School
- If you had a female cousin, friend or neighbor in 9th grade, would you tell her to come? Yes No Why ?
This section looks at discussing the sometimes-taboo topic of sex education. It deals with the consequences of having a co-education school and how to implement necessary education programs.
a. Sexual education and reproductive health tranning program
The general purpose of this program is to provide a forum for information, training, feedback and guidance to students on issues of sexual health, gender and self-esteem. This is done in order to support and guide their decision-making process. We suggest you address topics that will encourage a healthy and lively discussion.
• Adopt a responsible attitude towards sexuality for good personal and social development.
• Use the sex-education information provided when planning his or her future actions.
• Understand the concept and functions of sexuality.
• Understand the importance of being responsible and respectful with regards to sexuality.
• Understand the importance of effective communication between oneself and others regarding ones’ own sexual preferences, needs and comfort limits.
• Know the causes as well as personal and social consequences of teenage pregnancies.
• Learn about birth control methods as well as methods for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
• Understand the importance of responsible motherhood and responsible fatherhood.
• Research and learn about organizations that provide assistance to pregnant teenagers.
• Participate in and support community programs aimed at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
• Recognize the importance of family and school support in the development of emotional, social and sexual maturity.
Methodology: Interactive workshops for students of all grades must be developed.
Specific workshop topics:
• Gender roles and Gender Equity
• Birth Control and Family Planning Methods
• Paternity and Maternity (the importance of each role)
• Goals and Decision-making
• Self-esteem and Values
| A letter from a teacher who is leaving the school to another who is starting:
Sexual Education Coordinators:
For me, the most important aspect of this program was the opportunity granted to women to enter an area mostly occupied by men, and to develop trust plus group communication skills. The women have flourished during group activities and have demonstrated a desire to deal with serious topics from a creative and playful perspective. They enjoyed role playing activities and have put on shows for their classmates. I believe these activities have helped create strong bonds among group members while educating and introducing new concepts.
Keeping personal diaries also helped improve the level of trust between instructors and students. Most students were very willing to share their thoughts, opinions and feelings with me. They expressed those thoughts with a lot of clarity, which has allowed me to get to know them better as individuals and organize the classes based on their needs. At first they were closed and it was difficult for me to keep their interest for a long period of time. But once they realized they could trust me, they relaxed and opened up and took real interest in the class.
I emphasized that I was always available after class to answer individual questions or in smaller groups and there were always a few young ladies who took advantage of this opportunity. I also stressed confidentiality (except in matters of life and death). In addition to the classes and the activities, I tried to add an element of fun- games, dances, snacks, and a successful trip to the city. These activities increased their interest and class participation.
Finally, many young ladies became interested in starting a similar program in their communities in order to share with more women the information they had learned in class. It would be great if a program aimed at sharing this knowledge among community members could be developed.
Maria Pérez Trainer
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The goal of this section is to emphasize the importance of maintaining a physically and psychologically safe and healthy environment at the school.
Mental health is a state characterized by psychological wellbeing and self-acceptance, both issues that must be carefully addressed at boarding schools. One suggestion is the hiring of professionals to discuss matters of concern among adolescents such as drugs, alcoholism, depression and anxiety.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Preventive medicine is of great importance to the achievement of our institutional goals. We can take collective, protective measures such as immunizations and complete vaccinations as well as encouraging proper nutrition among students and staff. We can also teach general well-being practices raising awareness of the dangers of vitamin deficiency, smoking, alcoholism and sexually transmitted diseases among other health risks.
The Use of Medical Records
All Agricultural School students must have an updated medical profile at the main office in order to be prepared if cases of allergic reaction, asthma, heart trouble, stomach upset etc arise.
The school must provide first aid care in case of accidents. It is essential that the staff be trained in order to be able to provide first aid care. It is also advisable that parents or guardians be contacted immediately in the case of an accident.
Topics of mental health that should be learned by students:
1. Understand the concepts of mental health and mental illness.
2. Incorporate methods for prevention of mental illness.
3. Understand the concept and types of addictions.
4. Comprehend the causes and consequences of the consumption of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and others.
5. Take measures to prevent drug use.
6. Do research on causes of death amongst adolescents and national and/or local suicide rates.
LIFE AFTER GRADUATION
This section looks at the prospects that face the students after graduating from a FSS School and the role that is played by the School.
The alumni of the Agricultural School of the Paraguayan Foundation together with their families, have created a Cooperative with the purpose of:
1. Supporting the alumni in their projects.
2. Creating opportunities for farming businesses.
3. Providing training and technical assistance to the producers in their communities.
4. Working for the integration and social and economic improvement of the alumni.
5. Spreading the values of the Agricultural School promoting and supporting the search for new first year students in their communities.
6. Generating agricultural production projects and finding funding for projects of alumni communities and families.
7. Organizing each class in order to create a Co-op that would provide assistance and advice as well as a database of job and educational opportunities for the alumni.
Example each class has its own representative. Here are the representatives of each class:
• Class of 2003: Luis Alonso
• Class of 2004: Rodrigo Alonso, Adalberto Ojeda and Hugo Medina
• Class of 2005: Jorge Guerrero, Oscar Soto, Edgar Mendoza
• Class of 2006: Rolando Ruiz Diaz, Robert Gara and Benito Alvarenga.
Summary of Current Activity of 2006 Agricultural School Graduates:
Nº Class of 2006 Destination
1 Acuña Arias, Gustavo Vicente In Villa Hayes, has completed the Dreyfus Corp. project
2 Alvarenga Vargas, Benito Antonio Studies and works with his father in a family food business
3 Amarilla, Milciades Agricultural Extension Officer at the Bertoni Foundation
4 Bareiro Apestegui, Juan Silvino Works on Family property in Irala Fernández, Chaco
5 Benitez García, Gregorio Avelino Works at cattle ranch in Km. 95 Transchaco
6 Brítez Ovelar, Agustín Works in Argentina/ Harvests apples
7 Caballero Sánchez, Christian Rubén Studies agricultural education in San Pedro
8 Carmona Rodas, Arnaldo Works on family property in Concepción
9 Cuevas Moreno, Daigo Hernán Works on family property in Arroyito
10 Cristaldo, Mario Alberto Works at a farm in Luque
11 Durañona F., César Miguel Works on family property in Eusebio Ayala
12 Gaona, Derlis Osmar Studies agricultural administration in San Pedro
13 Garay Ruiz Díaz, Robert Military career
14 Gorman Smith, Jeffrey Brian Studies and works in Cnel Oviedo
15 Iturbe Sanabria, Alcides Works on Ranch in Paranhos, Brasil with his brother
16 Moreira Florenciano, Aldo Dejesus Agricultural Extension Officer Volendam Co-op
17 Mosqueda Cabrera, Alejandro Works at a relative’s business in Asuncion
18 Mosqueira, Jesús Works in Asunción, currently interviewing for agricultural jobs
19 Ortigoza López, Cristóbal Extension Officer at SENACSA
20 Penayo Cendra, Ricardo Works on family property in Arroyito
21 Pimentel Barrios, Alcides Works at a vet clinic in Asuncion
22 Ponce Mendoza, Aldo Aníbal Works on farm in Concepción
23 Ramírez Barrios, Rubén Darío Studies at EARTH College, Costa Rica
24 Ríos Gauto, Denis Enmanuel Works on family property in Filadelfia, studies rural administration in Loma Plata
25 Rivas Correa, Ignacio Completed Dreyfus Corp. project
26 Rodríguez, Carlos Alfonso Works at a ranch in the Chaco
27 Rojas Ramírez, Eugenio Works in Argentina harvesting fruits
28 Ruiz Díaz Constantini, Rolando Extension Officer with Dreyfus Corp.
29 Servín Cuéllar, Bernardo n/a
30 Villalba Lezcano, Digno Antonio Works with his father in Benjamin Aceval
31 Zárate Rodríguez, Jhonny Works on gamily property in Pinasco
We keep in touch with our students
The job does not end when the student receives his diploma and leaves the school. This is one more step in the process. In many cases the alumni remain in constant communication with the school. In other cases they even become part of the teaching and technical staff. The following letter is from a former student who is grateful to the school.
Letter from Rubén Ramirez, from EARTH College October 8, 2007
Dear Mr. Martín Burt,
I hope this finds you well.
In order to be in communication with the Fundación Paraguaya, I am writing this letter to highlight an issue of importance to the students at the Agricultural School. It is important in life to have goals. A goal is something that you want to achieve or attain. If we set a goal it means that there is something we have yet not achieved but desire. It is important for each person to face challenges during his/her lifetime and to want something and accomplish it. If we have one or more projects to accomplish in life, we have a compass to follow, a direction in life and a reason to enjoy it. The lack of goals could result in profound sadness and depression.
We each have a goal and achieving it can prove extremely satisfactory and have a positive impact on our environment. If we all achieve our goals, we would produce a major change in our society.
It would be very satisfying if we clarify our goals because it would prove beneficial to our development as people, and help as we try to make a difference in our community, and possibly create an overall change in our world.
Rubén Dario Ramirez Barrios