Second update from our students in La Romana

By the McMaster ELE students in La Romana —-

Now over a month into our trip, our project has progressed and grown, taking on some new directions. With our survey finalized and translated into Spanish, we began the process of data collection from both primary and secondary schools in the bateyes around La Romana. We’ve had a great deal of success with survey administration, but not without a few challenges along the way. Our initial objective was to give the survey to all students in grades 6-8 of the schools we visited. Not knowing how many secondary schools existed in the bateyes, we didn’t expect to receive a significant amount of data from grades 9-12 students. On our very first survey administration in Batey Magdalena, we were surprised to discover a relatively large secondary school in addition to the primary school there. That day, we were able to collect almost 100 surveys from the secondary students, and we returned the next day to give the survey to the grades 6-8 students. While analyzing and inputting our collected data later in the week, we found that the quality of information gained seemed to correspond positively to higher levels of education. With the primary students, we noticed a disappointing trend of missing data that could negatively impact our analysis. For our next administration in Guaymate, we adjusted our pre-survey instructions, which seemed to help with comprehension and completion of the survey. We were able to collect over 600 surveys, and are now beginning the long process of data entry.

We have also begun the planning and ethics approval of our second study relating to distance and education in the bateyes. We’re hoping to conduct a both formal and informal analysis of different educational determinants in relation to several educational indicators. One important factor we are especially interested in is distance of the students from the schools, as well as the distance of the schools from La Romana. Depending on the size of the batey, they may or may not have their own primary school. From our current understanding, there are only a handful of secondary schools in the bateyes. We’ve also learned that transportation costs can be quite high and may constitute a significant portion of a family’s income just to be able to send their children to secondary school. Through the analysis of attendance records and graduation rates, we hope to be able to establish some primary correlation between the students’ distance from the school and their education completion rates. We also hope to conduct some semi-structured interviews with principles and other significant stakeholders of education to get a better idea of their views of what factors affect education and what barriers may exist. 

This past week, we’ve also had a medical team of approximately 70 people staying with us, and we’ve had the opportunity to work with them in the medical clinics in the bateyes. We traveled to several bateyes with the team, and were able to assist in helping them run the pharmacy. It was a great experience to be able to see how these medical clinics in the bateyes run. We were all extremely impressed with how organized the clinic ran, and the wide variety of services that Good Sam and the visiting medical teams were able to offer the people in these bateyes. There was general medicine stations, dental, vision, clothing, as well educational presentations. Needless to say it was a great experience. 

Next steps for us are working on finishing off all the surveys we have left to conduct, which we should be done by the end of the week. Then we will move into analyzing the results and will hopefully be able to share some interesting findings with you all. We are also beginning to identify schools to look at for the education study, and will hopefully be moving forward with that shortly.

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