Ometepe Bilingual is a Free of Charge Elementary Bilingual School that provides a strong education to local children through small class sizes, quality nutrition and community engagement while simultaneously reducing pollution of the natural biosphere reserve.
Our elementary program is the first free-of-charge bilingual school in Central America and one of only a few bilingual schools in Nicaragua.
Our school has its roots in English classes for adults begun in the summer of 2007. Classes were taught in the open-air restaurant at the Hacienda Merida hotel. Some of our first students went on to successfully complete weekend English courses at Ave Maria University in Rivas and are now using their English skills in the local tourism industry.
Today, the bilingual school has founded an elementary school program and has its own buildings located on the grounds of Hacienda Merida.
In 2013 we opened our first eco- friendly classroom, built from plastic waste and sustainable earth-bag technology. We also welcomed our first elementary school class. Twelve four and five-year-olds enrolled in our first kindergarten class. Throughout the year the children studied in Spanish with a local teacher and in English with a series of generous volunteers. We celebrated the first graduating class in December 2013.
In February 2014, our elementary school program started its second year. Last year’s kindergarteners are now boisterous first graders and we have a new entering kindergarten class. Our local teaching staff has doubled as our newly hired first grade teacher joins our Kindergarten teacher.
The Ometepe Bilingual School functions similarly to a charter school in the US. OBS follows the Ministry of Education curriculum and there is no tuition. Class size is limited, but enrolment is open to all parents who are interested and willing to commit to their child’s education, to supporting their child at home, and to keeping their child in the program throughout primary school.
Our 2017 enrolment is 65 students total divided as follows: Kinder, 14. First Grade 12, Second Grade 12, Third Grade 12. Fourth Grade 15. Over the next three years we plan to construct 3 more eco-friendly classrooms from plastic waste, transforming an empty field by the lakeshore into a fully-functioning bilingual school for 84 students (12 per grade, grade K-6).
The Ometepe Bilingual School strives to provide a high quality education to the children of the rural island town of Mérida, Nicaragua, CA. The school is built from EcoBricks, plastic bottles filled with inorganic trash such as plastic bags, plastic packaging and other waste produced by the community and the tourists that frequent this paradise.
These EcoBricks are used as normal bricks would be and held together using cement. 1.5 lt. plastic bottles, the typical bottle size of the purified water sold here, holds approximately 400 g of inorganic waste. Every square meter of building uses approximately 60 bottles, or EcoBricks, and by the end of 2017 the Ometepe Bilingual School will have used almost 26,000 bottles for its construction. Not only do EcoBricks effectively reduce waste on the island and in the waters of Lake Nicaragua, but they also serve as a form of currency. A bottle filled with trash can be traded in at the Hotel Hacienda Merida, the hotel associated with the school, for 15 córdobas, or 60 U.S. cents. This encourages the locals to get involved with the school, by supporting the construction of new buildings, as well as take responsibility for the cleanliness of their island and have a greater awareness of being ecofriendly. The school is zero emission and creates zero waste.
Our current flagship project is the elementary school program at the Ometepe Bilingual School.
We continue to seek out and welcome English-speaking volunteers to provide English-language instruction to our students.
Volunteers work approximately 30 hours per week in some combination of the following classes:
OBS Kindergarten, OBS First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade English Enrichment for Kids and High School After School English.
As a volunteer, responsibilities will include assisting the classroom teacher in implementing activities and supporting student learning; leading the class in English language activities; and planning activities (for execution in Spanish or English) at the direction of the Ometepe Bilingual School Principal (Esther Vargas)
Depending on the needs of the school, other opportunities may exist. These include coming as a guest to adult English classes being taught by long-term volunteers; working on school-related administrative projects; assisting with non-school related projects (related to the Hacienda, recycling efforts, conservation education, fundraising, social media updates, etc.
Whatever your work assignment, you can look forward to a fun, rewarding experience at Ometepe Bilingual School. Furthermore, Ometepe is a beautiful place and you will find many great opportunities for recreation in your free time.
Qualifications: English speaker that have the ability to plan basic English lectures for elementary school children. Prior teaching experience in not necessary.
We offer volunteers room and board package for $150 per week. This includes shared housing and 3 heathy meals per day. You must pay separately for any extra menu items (e.g. smoothies, beers, snacks). Our minimum volunteer commitment is 3 weeks. For long-term volunteers (3+ months), we offer discounted room and board packages. 130.00 per week for 3 months or more, six months or more $105.00 per week. If you require a private room, we offer a 20% discount on room rates (depending on availability) with a 20% discount on menu items. We can arrange homestay housing with a local family.
$150 per week
$21.42 per day
The Ometepe Bilingual School is 100% supported by the Hacienda Merida revenues and generous donations we get through Omprakash.org, a registered 501 (C) 3 nonprofit organization based in the US
Description of the achieved results
The results of this initiative have been incredible. The Ometepe Bilingual School has a 100% retention rate. It has allowed its students to surpass the average 3.6 years of elementary schooling amongst 60% of the population and a bilingual education is directly correlated with staying in school longer and succeeding in those continued years of schooling. The family’s of the students have also had the opportunity to get involved in an education based community as well as heightened their understanding of the importance of a bilingual education. While exceeding the projects educational goals is fantastic, the initiative has had a lasting impact on the natural biosphere reserve as well. With almost 20,000 bottles used for construction and each of those bottle filled with 400g of inorganic trash, almost 8,000 kg of inorganic trash and 20,000 bottles have been kept out of the streets, backyards, landfills and the beautiful Lake Nicaragua. The schools electronics are powered by solar panels, as are the staff electronics, making the school emission free as well as waste free. Furthermore, the hotel and the school combine to employ over 50 locals, which offers economic opportunity for the members of this rural community. For a rural village of approximately 1500 people, this project has accomplished amazing results. Bilingual education has become a reality, economic growth has become possible and this island paradise is becoming less polluted every single day.