It may be taken for granted in many countries, but a solid infrastructure that meets the needs of students makes a world of difference in terms of offering a quality education. At least it does for Miriam Chipana, a student at the Jaime Escalante School, located in the Cotahuma neighborhood of La Paz: “It is the best school in the area since we have our own field, a computer room, better bathrooms; everything is bigger and with more light.”
Odón Willy Barrientos, leader of the local neighborhood association, father and former student of the Luis Espinal School in the Pasankeri neighborhood, could not agree more: “It is a momentous change; 30 years ago, we sat in adobe chairs and brought wooden planks to use as writing desks. The new infrastructure encourages students to move forward.”
Both schools were remodeled as part of the Transformation of Secondary School Project (Protes) funded by the World Bank, which is implemented in peri-urban areas of La Paz. The program included the construction of four schools and the remodeling of another three, for a total of 137 classrooms serving more than 6,000 students.
All of these schools are in operation, with new sanitation facilities, administrative offices, furniture, computer equipment and virtual laboratories. This is in addition to the construction and equipping of 95 classrooms in 12 schools.
“All of this has resulted in better quality, but also an increase in coverage,” says Patricia Álvarez, World Bank specialist and project manager. Freddy Mamani, the principal at Luis Espinal School, confirms an increase in school enrolment: “Enrolment has risen, as has attendance in each class, so we are operating at full capacity.”