ISSUE NUMBER TWO
MARCH 20, 1997
By Takashi Yogi(*)
URACCAN requested aid from the Earth Links organization in the United States to obtain computers. Earth Links got donations of used computers and software from individuals and companies, repaired them with volunteer help, and then sent 16 computer systems to URACCAN in November 1996 via a Pastors for Peace truck and trucks driven by Santa Cruz Coalition for Nicaragua members Bill Burtch, Kurt Brux , and Patricia Fashing. The computers survived the long trip by truck and boat and were placed in a special classroom that was renovated especially for the computers. The desks and chairs were handmade by a skilled URACCAN carpenter known as King George.
In late January Steven Leinau, executive director of Earth Links, and Takashi Yogi, a computer engineer arrived at Bluefields to participate in a 10-day course to teach computer software and repair to sixteen URACCAN faculty and administrators. Computer repair services are not readily available on the Atlantic coast, so users need to be able to diagnose and repair problems themselves. The studen ts eagerly used screwdrivers to remove the covers of the computers and learned to add memory, set up connections, and replace defective parts. The course covered basic software such as wordprocessors, databases, spreadsheets, graphics, DOS and Windows. Since there was a wide range of computer experience among the students, the course was a cooperative effort, with the more experienced students g uiding the less experienced ones.
One of the students, Betsy Sinclair Humphries knew WordPerfect well and taught that section of the course.
At the end of the course, the students enjoyed creating their own certificates of completion. Costs of the course were met by fundraising by Earth Links and the Coalition for Nicaragua.
Getting to class was a daily adventure because the road to URACCAN is very bad and is passable only with a four-wheel drive vehicle. So teachers and students all rode in the back of a truck, often in the pouring rain, through deep mud and water.
At the end of the course, the Earth Links group went to visit the Bilwi campus of URACCAN. Takashi Yogi repaired some older computers there, assisted by two students who had taken the course.
(*) Takashi Yogi is a computer engineer who participated in the Earth Links computer project with URACCAN.
In February Miguel Gonzalez. URACCAN's Regional Vice-rector in Bluefields sent the following note of appreciation to Bert Muhly of the Coalition for Nicaragua and one of the participants in the Earthlinks Computer project:
I believe that by now you are getting all ready to go to the conference [Nicaragua Solidarity Conference in Washington]. I understand that Francisco will be able to be there after all. We pray all goes well.
Before you head off to the conference to speak on our behalf, I felt it was necessary to express again our sincere gratitude to you, and to those who came along, for the time and effort that you dedicated to us.
It amazes and encourages us to know that there are people out there who believe, as strongly as we do, in the ideals of URACCAN.
We believe that the best way to express our appreciation is by keeping URACCAN moving forward, and that is exactly what we plan to do.
Please give my regards to the other members of the group. Hoping to hear from you again. Sincerely....
URACCAN's "Las Minas" campus is centered in Siuna Municipality. This jurisdiction covers approximately 6300 sq. kilometers and has some 47,000 inhabitants. It is one of three municipalities that make up the Mining Triangle of Nicaragua (Bonanza, Rosita, Siuna) known for its deposits of precious metals.
URACCAN began its academic activity in 1995, with campuses in Bluefields, Bilwi, and Siuna.
The Siuna campus originally offered degree programs in Agroforestry Engineering; Business Administration with a focus on forest, mining, and fishing resources; and Sociology with a focus on Autonomy.
In November the URACCAN Association approved extending the program at Las Minas campus to include degrees in: Economics, Business Administration, Tourism, and Public Accounting. As well a pre-degree course will be offered in Community and Municipal Growth and Planning.
Enrollment figures for the Las Minas campus this year are as follows:
General Studies (1st yr.) 203
2nd Year 82
3rd Year 78
This breaks down as follows:
General Studies 84
Engineering (Year 2 and 3) 46
Administration (Year 2 and 3) 40
Sociology (Year 2 and 3) 33
Bonanza and Rosita
General Studies 119
Natural Sciences 17
Social Sciences 24
An additional 36 students are enrolled in Saturday courses in Siuna.
This enrollment has grown considerably since 1995 when 152 students signed up for our first academic year.
Last year almost 500 people took advantage of URACCAN's Continuing Education Programs in the following areas:
Gender Seminar 28
Basic Accounting 44
Diploma in Mayangna 33
Diploma in Health 39
Peace Culture Diploma 61
Micro Mining 76
Electoral Rights 181
The Continuing Education program in 1997 will offer seminars in: Accounting (Level 1 and 2), Business Management, Soil Management and Conservation, Forest Management and Conservation, Agroforestry, and Cattle Management. Over 400 people are expected to attend these seminars.
We will continue to offer Diplomas in Indigenous Mayangna Rights in Bonanza, in Community Health in Siuna, and we will begin a Community Health Diploma course in Rosita. The Gender Seminar (No 2) will also be offered.
Work will proceed towards launching the Institute for Research on the Tropical Humid Environment
Students are also offering training to some 200 people in small communities (El Hormiguero, Danli, Sikilte) during their practicum work.
The Las Minas campus is still engaged in creating the basic infrastructural conditions for its work. At Siuna we have eight class rooms, a lab room, a library, and a room to be dedicated to computers. The campus has 28 full and part-time teachers and 12 administrativa second language. Guillermo McLean, director of the Instituto de Investigacion y Promocion Linguistica [IIPLI], hosted her visit. IIPLI di rects all of URACCAN's language programs and research activity. Ms. Kelley also did consulting with Moravian schools in Bluefields on the teaching of standard English to Creole speakers. And, to top all an already heavy workload, she carried out a number of tasks related to the ongoing York University-URACCAN Linkage project. "I look forward to returning to Nicaragua to continue working on bilin gual education with the many talented educators I've had the pleasure of working with in Bluefields," she said just prior to heading to the airport for a flight to the snowy north.
[The following article appeared originally in the monthly Caribbean Coast tabloid AUTONOMIA. It describes URACCAN's distance education program -- PRUEDIS (Programa Universitario de Educacion a Distancia). URACCAN Update has translated and edited the item for space reasons.]
By Kenny Lisby
The sixth session of PRUEDIS was recently held in Bilwi [formerly known as Puerto Cabezas, the capital of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN)]. Fifty-three teachers of various Atlantic Coast communities participated. Among them were three educators from Siuna, one from Rosita, 3 from Bonanza, 3 from Waspan, one from Pearl Lagoon, 2 from Rama, 6 from Bluefields, and the rest from Bilwi. T he teachers are working towards degrees in Geography, Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Spanish, and Chemistry.
A parallel PRUEDIS session took place in Bluefields in January, but those studying Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics traveled to Bilwi where those curses are offered. Likewise three teachers from Bilwi traveled to Bluefields where the English courses are offered.
The teachers from the North Atlantic as well as the South Atlantic Region are about to realize their dreams. URACCAN's Vice-Rector for the RAAN Albert St-Clair said that this was the second-last of the PRUEDIS sessions. The final session, which will be mostly dedicated to thesis work, will occur in May. Course work will soon conclude and the students will soon be graduating. St-Clair announced t hat graduation day will be on July 29 in the south and possibly July 30 in the north.
The PRUEDIS program began in 1986 as an outreach activity of the UNAN [National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, based in Leon and Managua]. URACCAN assumed this work in 1995 with the aim of enabling Caribbean Coast teachers to complete a degree. PRUEDIS depends on aid from such groups as SAIH of Norway. SAIH funding covers bibliography, travel, food, and lodging expenses of students for eac h of the PRUEDIS sessions.
The program and its teaching-staff are coordinated by Francisco Barrios.
Like most other institutions in Nicaragua, URACCAN will take a break during the Semana Santa (Holy Week) of March 24 - 28. Classes resume March 31.