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What Do Vallarta Kids Think About the VCEP Program?

February 8, 2019

In 2018, three professionals from the Seaver Foundation spent two weeks in Puerto Vallarta interviewing children at the Volcanes Community Education Project to find out what the students think of the program.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - I was brought up in an era when "Children were to be seen and not heard" and when misbehavior in the classroom resulted in six whacks with a cane on my butt by my teacher, but these attitudes of adults towards children are no longer appropriate and have, rightfully, been changed.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child acknowledges that children have the right to express their opinions and to have those opinions heard and acted upon when appropriate. The treaty sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.

Nations that ratify this convention are bound to it by international law. Currently, every member of the United Nations, except the USA, is party to it. As a result of Canada's ratification, that country made major changes to its youth criminal laws, resulting in the Youth Criminal Justice Act which went into effect on April 1, 2003 and specifically refers to Canada's commitments to children under the Convention. Mexico ratified it in 1990.

But how do we know if the lofty goals of this treaty of the United Nations is actually being followed in classrooms?

Well, there happens to be an English charity, the Seaver Foundation, that does evaluations of children's programs around the world including the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America/Mexico.

In the past 5 years they have conducted about 20 surveys, interviewing only children - no teachers and no adults. They want to find out what the children think of the programs that they are part of.

In Puerto Vallarta, in 2018, three professionals, skilled in techniques interviewing and evaluating children's responses, spent two weeks in the PV Colonia of Volcanes speaking to the children at the Volcanes Community Education Project (VCEP) where they interviewed 106 children in their program from grades 2 through 6.

The Volcanes Community Education Project was started in 2011 in an abandoned elementary school building. Now in its eighth year, it has an enrollment of 400 students who come, voluntarily, each day to the program, before or after attending their regular public school. Classes are from 9 am to 6 pm and the Community Library is open until 9 pm.

VCEP receives no funding from any level of the Mexican government. It is funded entirely by donations, scholarships and support from individuals and local businesses and organizations, including the Puerto Vallarta International Friendship Club.

Now that abandoned elementary school houses a computer lab, two English classrooms, a library, a Spanish reading intervention classroom and a music classroom. All rooms have a large-screen TV and internet/Skype capabilities. There's a book club on alternate Saturday mornings, a supplemental math class, a kids club and two soccer teams.

The VCEP Scholarship Program is open to students from grade 7 through university. Each one must maintain a GPA of 8.5 and perform service to community four hours per month. Eighty students are now receiving scholarships funded by people and organizations who want to make a difference. Twenty-five of these students are in university; two are in fourth year medical school!

If you would like to give a helping hand to a child who wants a decent education you can make a donation via the IFC website by clicking HERE. For just $300 USD a year, or less than a dollar a day (tax-deductible in Canada), you can change a child's life without changing yours.

Oops! I'm out of space. More on the results of the Seaver evaluation of VCEP next week.

The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico, listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta AC. The majority of IFC members are English-speaking residents and visitors who volunteer their time, homes or money to help kids around the Bay of Banderas. The clubhouse is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta. Phone: 322-222-5466. Website: Email: ifcvallarta(at)