Get the students interested
"Taking part in the 'Entre Deux' programme is a real break for our young students. They don't feel pressured anymore and don't worry about what others think of them" explains Pablo Zarauza, a social worker. With his colleague Chum Siengi, they created the 'Entre Deux' programme that offers youngsters who are struggling in school a week or more of sporting and cultural activities as well as giving them time to listen.
Some children skip school without their families knowing about it. They pretend they are going to school, and even wear their uniforms. But as soon as they arrive at PSE, they don't go into school, they stay outside, and hang around in the neighbourhood. Neither do they join the extracurricular activities organised by PSE at the end of the school day. "Sometimes, we discuss with the families but it depends on the student's situation. We obtain better results when we meet them because we have their support" Pablo says.
Sometimes, PSE's group leaders go around the neighbourhood to identify students who skip classes and bring them back to school. They often hang out in the same places: in the streets around PSE, in internet cafés or in cafés where they can play videogames.
An individualised schedule
"We try to entice the youngsters through sporting activities" Pablo explains. "We keep them busy with other activities like school maintenance or artistic activities. The goal is for them to be always busy and off the streets".
Throughout the week, sports start at 7am: basketball, football or volleyball. Then, there are more activities: visiting the community centres where they organise pursuits for our youngest children, school maintenance, music, traditional martial arts workshops, climbing... Students also have a consultation with our psychiatrists and, at the end of the week, they have an assessment with Pablo and Chum who evaluate their progress and decide if they should go back to class or not.
Promising results and a sense of accomplishment
Outside PSE, a lot of our children are confronted with violence, drugs and alcohol on a daily basis. The programme has been designed to establish a dialogue and to listen to the students' personal and family issues. "Here we just ask them to come and be themselves" Pablo assures. "We generally see good results after a week, but it really depends on the situation. When they join the programme, they realise that they are understood, listened to and that we do all we can for them".
According to Pablo, one of the reasons children drop out is linked to the fact that many of them don't feel committed or involved in school. There is also the influence of others and the call of the street. "Many children are attracted to becoming a 'bad boy', they think it's cool and join gangs with whom they start to do bad things". In the Entre Deux' programme, there is no judgement. "We try to create a community to share common interests and to encourage teamwork, behave like a family" Pablo explains.
"The programme is really new, we had to explain to the teachers the interest of taking the children out of class for a week and to establish a specially designed schedule as well as alternative activities. They now understand and they ask our help more naturally when they face issues with a student" Pablo adds.
The results of the programme are promising and show the impact of the actions we have taken. "We work with difficult children who need special attention. If we give them time and listen to them, we improve the situation. I think that we are part of their lives and that makes me proud. It's a big success!" concludes Pablo.