Education poses a dilemma. On the one hand, it serves as a tool for upward social mobility and for the achievement of social equity; on the other hand, it requires certain levels of social equity to ensure quality.
The Educational Integration Scholarships program aims to overcome this problem by providing financial assistance to young people in vulnerable situations so that they can continue their studies. Furthermore, it assigns each student a tutor who has the responsibility to accompany him or her and to collaborate in his/her development.
Mariel is one of these tutors, who also works as a volunteer in the school support area of the parish of "St Giovanni Bosco and St Domenico Savio" in Cordoba - attended by many minors who come from the slums of "El Tropezón".
The scholarship, she says, is used for the purchase of books, photocopies, school materials, as well as items for personal hygiene, snacks and transport costs to and from school. “Aid in many ways is an incentive, especially for the older ones. Most of the purchases are made by the mothers, but the older ones organize themselves with their purchases, plan, calculate and analyze,” Mariel reports.
This year, due to the pandemic and forced isolation, many families have been left without income, while children and young people have stopped attending school, so the scholarship was aimed mainly at the purchase of food.
Regarding the sustainability of the study, the pandemic and isolation have led to great difficulties in carrying out their homework, as most of the children have relatively old phones and devices shared between 2 or 4 people, the internet may reach them only intermittently, and many of them do not know how to handle computer programs or tools such as Word, Excel or Google Drive.
But Mariel recalls that “Don Bosco advised us to be at the side of the young, to listen to them, to advise them and to accompany them.” For this reason, for her part, she has done and is doing everything in her power to allow these children to continue their studies. She keeps in touch with families by phone, pays attention to deadlines for reporting expenses, gives them the tools to do their homework, and helps them. In addition, she went to plead their case with the bank herself so that the children could keep the subsidy and expenses and their backing maintained taking into account the current context.
All this speaks of an exceptional commitment and love.