BECA exists to provide quality, affordable bilingual education to the educationally disenfranchised while fostering meaningful cultural exchange.
In today’s world of deepening inequity, many Central American families are torn apart by dangerous journeys north to provide for their families or keep them safe – journeys that offer no guarantees for safe arrival. But there are other paths forward and BECA is one of them. Together, students, families, and teachers are collaborating everyday in BECA’s two community-led bilingual schools to write their own beautiful stories of success and hope without ever needing to leave home.
BECA’s model is more than an international teaching program. We distinguish ourselves by the breadth and depth of our community engagement, our dedication to fostering long-term relationships with our communities, and our commitment to ensuring that our BECA teachers are trained and supported to unleash the amazing potential of their students and to learn from them and their families. The proof is in the pudding – BECA teaching alumni form life-long bonds with their students, families, and each other.
In the 2016-17 school year, one of our long-time dreams came through – we hired a BECA graduate as a teacher! In 2019-2020 we have seven BECA graduates on our teaching team!
Did you know that the word “BECA” means “scholarship” in Spanish? BECA – Bilingual Education for Central America – is a non-profit organization focused on realizing large hopes and dreams for the children and families of Honduras, and children and families throughout Central America and the USA.
The idea for BECA was originally conceived in 2001, when several North Americans arrived in Cofradia, Honduras with the idea of collaborating to build a school that could serve as a model for inexpensive bilingual education in Central America. Hurricane Mitch had devastated the country only 23 months before and the wreckage was still present in many places – bridges out, entire towns leveled, and more than 3,000 schools around the country seriously damaged. Many folks were contributing to relief efforts by sending school supplies or contributing towards school building repairs, but there was no movement to level the economic playing field by creating access to a high quality bilingual education.
Over the course of the 2001-2002 school year, we built a school in partnership with community members – opening on September 24, 2001 with 38 students in a building that did not yet have a roof or classroom walls. Many of our students had previously been in the public school system – which ran three sessions a day to accommodate students, had classrooms filled with 60 or more first graders, and only managed to actually hold school about 90-110 days out of the required 200 days. By the end of that first year, we had 84 students (and a roof) as well as a clearer sense of what it was going to take to turn our fledgling venture into a high-quality educational endeavor. It was also clear that success lay in the beauty and challenges of the multicultural realities of our work. We spent the next few years building relationships with our Honduran partners, refining how to recruit long term volunteers, learning how to prepare volunteers for their role as full-time teachers in Honduras, seeing our student population soar to more than 200 and so much more.
In 2004, the community came to BECA with the idea to make our collaboration direct by building what is now San Jeronimo Bilingual School – a nonprofit, community-led bilingual school. Our community partners achieved the seemingly impossible in just six months – securing permission from the Ministry of Education to open a school, raising the money to build our first humble school building, forming a Honduran nonprofit organization, and entering into a formal partnership agreement with BECA. San Jeronimo opened its doors on September 1, 2004.
BECA has grown so much from our very humble beginnings. Yet our commitment to the two prongs of our mission – providing a high quality bilingual education to children in under resourced communities and doing so through meaningful multicultural collaboration – has not changed at all.
We now have two partner schools in Honduras – each of which is managed locally. We serve 650 children and their families every day. Because of our collaboration each of the schools operates at low to no financial cost to the families whose children attend. And, those families put in an unbelievable number of service hours to keep the schools not only running but thriving. BECA has designed a high-class bilingual curriculum, an intensive training institute for our volunteers, ongoing professional development, and so many other elements that are part of running high quality schools. And, we do it in communities where electricity and running water are not to be taken for granted, in places where the drug wars have taken countless family and friends of our students, where migration is often on the tips of our families’ tongues as they wonder how they will possibly make ends meet. We do all of this in an equal partnership with our Honduran colleagues.
Quality Education for All
Despite being a region endowed with abundant natural resources and a vibrant culture, Central America has been marked by endemic poverty, income inequality, crumbling infrastructure, and a lack of quality educational and professional opportunities. BECA seeks to reverse these dynamics so that all Central Americans have the ability to express their full human potential.
BECA believes that the most efficient and self-sustaining means of allowing Central America to flourish lies in the provision of quality education for all. The positive outcomes of a healthy educational system are many: the development of critical thinkers and innovators, the creation of a class of skilled laborers, and the growth of a socially-conscious citizenry. BECA envisions a region where everyone will have access to quality education regardless of economic means.
To that end, we strive to collaborate with a vast network of schools that will graduate students who champion learning and literacy, challenge the status quo, and who embody a service-minded attitude to become persistent advocates for social change. Our goal is not to encourage students to pursue opportunities outside of Central America, but rather to empower and enable them to remain in the region by equipping them with the skills they need to access economic and social opportunity from within their native countries.
We are not so arrogant to think that we North Americans can solve Central America’s problems unilaterally. We alone do not have answers to the region’s challenges, which is why we hold collaboration with local partners as an article of faith. Only if we work together with respect, honesty, integrity, and equality, do we believe we will accomplish our goal of achieving a sustainable educational and economic transformation.
- Quality English-language whole-school curriculum (developed by BECA)
- Summer Training Institute for BECA Teachers
- Volunteer Support and Mentorship
- Ongoing Pedagogical Professional Development
- Cultural Immersion
- Team Bonding Activities
- Network of experts for professional development and support
Our Partner’s Commitment
- Facilities – separate classroom for each grade and no more than 25 students per class
- Accessible fee structure for local community
- Specified percentage of scholarship students
- School Director
- Spanish teachers
- Administrative responsibility for school management and financial records
- Permission to operate school on August – June academic calendar
YOU CAN MAKE AN IMPACT
We provide those with a desire to have a social impact (including graduates from our partner schools) with ongoing training and support, connections to a local community, and an opportunity to make a hyperlocal global impact. Working with BECA is more than just teaching abroad – it is ensuring that a quality education does not come at a cost families cannot bear. It is providing an alternative to a perilous and uncertain journey north. Together, we are equipping our students to lead us forward.