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Why We Closed the Free School

What began in 2002 as the realisation of a dream ended in 2010 with the closure of La Escuela Caribe.

There were three reasons for ending the project:

The news came as a shock to everyone. But as Florangel, the school’s director, told students and staff at our final meeting: “This building is not Escuela Caribe. La Escuela Caribe is you, yourselves.”

Our new priority was to get our now-literate students back into the state school system. For a further year, La Escuela Caribe continued as a virtual school - instead of attending daily classes together, students and teachers kept in touch by phone and e-mail. On Fridays, the students met for afternoon activities organised by their three teachers - Florangel, Robert and Nelly. That could be music and dance or a game of handball – activities requiring concentration, co-ordination and teamwork – or sitting together and looking over schoolwork with a drink and a snack.

Though it was disappointing to close the Free School, there were a string of achievements:

And so a beautiful chapter came to an end in the lives of us all.

When we first met these teenagers they were illiterate school-dropouts. This film tells the story of how they learned to read and write and later return to state schools. For the students of La Escuela Caribe, literacy means liberation – an essential first step towards an education that can free them from a future of poverty, unemployment and crime.

Stills from the documentary film "La Escuela Caribe".

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