Improving Alternative Education Programs in Honduras

Education Committee Members from a Tegucigalpa community plan upcoming activities to support their local alternative education program.

Education Committee Members from a Tegucigalpa community plan upcoming activities to support their local alternative education program.

In urban areas of Honduras, over 40% of youth ages 13-15 do not attend grades 7—9 and 60% of youth ages 16-18 do not attend grades 10-12 (INE, 2011).  A lack of access to education disproportionally affects youth who live in socially and economically marginalized communities, as these youth often have to drop out of school for economic, family and health reasons (e.g. early pregnancy) or early entrance into the labor market (UNDP, 2012).  In the country’s current situation of increased insecurity and crime, youth who lack adequate education and legal livelihood options are vulnerable for participation in gangs, violence and illicit activities.

The traditional education system is not equipped to meet the needs of at-risk and marginalized youth (youth living in poverty and/or unsafe neighborhoods, overage youth, working youth, pregnant youth, young parents).  Alternative education programs respond to the needs of youth excluded by traditional schools by offering programs that (1) are located near youths’ homes (in schools, churches, community centers, etc.); (2) have flexible schedules (such as evening classes), and; (3) are lower cost than traditional schools.     Many alternative education programs are highly decentralized and rely on the use of community spaces, facilitators and local financial support and management.  As a result, local community support is a critical factor for determining the success and sustainability of these programs

METAS Project (Mejorando la Educación para Trabajar, Aprender y Superarse/ Improving Education for Work, Learning and Success), a USAID-funded program implemented by EDC (Education Development Center) fosters community participation and ownership of alternative education programs by helping local education committees (made up of representatives from local government, schools, churches, NGOs, facilitators, parents and youth) carry out activities aimed at improving the sustainability, access and quality of alternative education programs.

METAS builds the capacity of local education committees to conduct needs assessments of at-risk youth in the community and to develop and implement action plans.  METAS trains education committees in mobilizing resources and program management, as well as engaging community members in support of the program through awareness and strategic alliances.

As a result of METAS’ capacity-building programs, committees are better equipped to support local alternative education programs.   For example, one committee, in collaboration with students, organized a city-wide fundraiser to raise money for seed capital so that students could implement community service projects.  Another committee utilized a rotating funds loan that allowed them to buy textbooks for students.  The repaid funds will be used to allow other committees to implement projects or buy necessary educational materials.  Yet another committee started a community library with the assistance of the Red Cross.

In addition to supporting these committees, METAS also works to improve alternative education facilitators’ competencies.  Facilitators are often community volunteers who do not always have the academic preparation or experience to teach but who remain committed to improving access to education.  These facilitators may or may not receive a stipend from the central government and do not receive any professional development opportunities.  In collaboration with the National Center for Education for Work (CENET), METAS offers a Certification in Social Skills and Methodology for Facilitating Learning Processes, which helps facilitators improve teaching methods, reinforce content knowledge and learn to work with at-risk youth. 

All of these interventions contribute to the sustainability of alternative education programs.  For more information on METAS’ support to alternative education programs, please visit METAS Project’s website:


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