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Puerto Rico’s broken education system to be rebuilt from hurricanes

Organisations in Puerto Rico are using the destruction of the hurricanes to rebuild the education system. Source: shutterstock.com

Hurricanes fragmented Puerto Rico last year but the education system was broken long before that, organisations say.

Now the country has a chance to rebuild not just their country but their schooling too.

Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last September, destroying roads, pipes and homes. Students were left with no schools to study in, limited water to drink and no access to food supplies due to churned up roads.

The contents of a home are seen from the air during recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria near Utuado, Puerto Rico, October 10, 2017. Source: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Although the hurricanes passed by the end of September, the ghost of their destruction very much remains.

But some organisations believe there may be a silver lining to the disaster – the collapse of Puerto Rico’s broken education.

Ciencia Puerto Rico, a “global community of scientists, students, educators and allies,” reported that in 2016, 98 percent of students were not able to use basic scientific knowledge to process data and handle complex problems, according to VOA.

Mónica Feliú-Mójer, the director of communications and science outreach for Ciencia Puerto Rico, said: “I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and I remember growing up, I didn’t know that science was done.”

“Science does belong in Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans do belong in science. And something that’s always been really important for us is to make science relevant to the culture.”

Feliú-Mójer explained that science is a fundamental part of modern life, so it is important Puerto Rico’s young people can participate in the industry and propel the economy forward.

Over the next year, Ciencia plans to help connect scientists with community leaders and educators to find the best ways to teach disaster-related subjects.

“We want these projects to be led by the students for their communities. So that the students can say, alright, here I am learning about water and water systems. How can I come up with a solution that’s actually going to impact my community, which maybe has not had access to potable water for three months.”

Lessons will also be developed surrounding other issues linked to the environment. Feliú-Mójer added that using project-based learning rather than just fact retention is important to developing a genuine interest in science.

Ciencia goal is for Puerto Rico to rebuild its community as quickly as possible and produce the next generation of science leaders who can change the Caribbean island nation for the better.

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