Location: The Doña Flora and Benjamin Rabinovitch Education Center in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Primary Program: Model Montessori Preschool and Nutritious Meal Program
Number of children participating: 200 children ages 3-8 divided between morning and afternoon sessions
DREAM Staff: 9 Montessori teachers, 1 custodian and 1 doorman
Important Donors: JP Morgan Chase, The Rabinovitch Family and Spencer Kimball
In spite of a universal acceptance that early childhood education is a critical component to any education, the Dominican Republic does not offer public preschool education programs. This deficiency has had a profound negative effect on the Dominican education system. In fact, in a 2008 UNESCO (SERCE) study of academic achievement for third and sixth grade students, the Dominican Republic came in dead last in the areas of Math, Reading and Science, significantly lower than the other 16 Latin American countries participating. These poor scores have a direct correlation with the lack of quality preschool education programs and the preparation of these students.
The Doña Flora and Benjamin Rabinovitch Education Center’s Model Montessori Preschool introduces disadvantaged children to superior education while addressing malnourishment and basic health concerns, which are critical factors in the poor quality of education in the Dominican Republic. The program offers morning and afternoon classes to 220 students, and is run by nine local teachers, and a lead teacher, who teaches and coordinates the program. All of the teachers have completed or are currently enrolled in a Montessori-certification course. For the 2012-13 school year, DREAM has a Montessori-certified Peace Corps Volunteer, who is supporting the on-going training of the local staff. The families of enrolled students donate two weeks of volunteer hours per year to assist in the preschool, giving parents a chance to see firsthand how their children are benefiting from the program, as well as offsetting staffing costs for DREAM. Through the foundation laid by a quality education in early childhood development, these children are positioned to take full advantage of the years of schooling to come.