I shudder to think of its paucity in tiny rural villages far less proximate to urban centers than Paso Ancho. I have derived much joy from volunteering there – mostly, under the guise of helping the students with their English, I play guitar with them, leading them in standard American children’s songs such as “Old MacDonald” and “A Bicycle Built for Two”, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Do: a Deer”, and can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head tunes like Raffi’s “Baby Beluga” and Ringo’s “Octopus’s Garden”.
I’ve met relatively few local people whose school-learned English is better than rudimentary; those who are able to converse in the language have managed to do so either by their own initiative or in university. Most of the teachers make great effort to instruct in large, often unruly classes with little pedagogical equipment and virtually no books.
And to a considerable degree their work is undermined by the other well-established institution, the Roman Catholic Church. Either teachers unabashedly expound standard catechetical dogma as if it were fact (no de facto “separation of church and state here”) or, if their thinking is free of these maddening constraints, they don’t dare arouse the ire of officials, priests, and parents. One young lady – an intelligent person and clearly one who was a good student in school – insisted to me that evolution was falsehood and that fossils were put
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