LBST 303 Issues of Justice in a Global Community: Educational Inequity
MUS 480 Special Topics: Music Education in the Dominican Republic
EDUC 390 Special Topics: Global Educational Inequity
EDUC 403 Connecting Home, School, and Community
EDUC 618 Issues of Diversity: Language, Cognition, and Culture
EDUC 625 Culturally and Educationally Responsive Pedagogy
Dr. Rebecca Grunzke, Teacher Education
Dr. Douglas Hill, Music
Mr. Steven Miller, English & Liberal Studies
Service Project Description:
The Dominican Republic is highly stratified socioeconomically with little chance of upward mobility for the very large population of working poor. Dominican youth are especially at risk for early pregnancy, criminal activity, and dropping out of school. Despite the provision of free primary school education, economic challenges prevent children from completing their education, often because they are required to supplement family income by working at an early age, usually in the informal economy. This is true even in resort areas in Puerto Plata geared toward the ecotourism industry, where youth are more likely to sell snacks to tourists at stop lights than finish their education. As such, “the school system in the Dominican Republic produces the lowest educational outcomes in Latin America, and more than one-third of children in the country live in families that survive on less than $5 per family member per day.”
This project will partner with the DREAM Project to participate in a holistic youth development program called A Ganar, co-sponsored by USAID/Alerta Joven, which assists youth 12-25 years old to return to school or acquire key job skills, such as the ability to speak English and compose effective résumés. Our team members will mentor youth, serve as conversation partners for ESL students, and assist adolescents in healthy decision-making.
Though we may be staying in or near a resort area, we will be housed in more modest accommodations and eat local fare. We will also visit historically and culturally significant sites in Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, largest city, and chief seaport. As the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the Americas and largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean, Santo Domingo boasts many firsts.
According to the DREAM Music Education Program, children who “participate in band and ensemble music programs are seven times more likely to graduate from high school, … providing a solid foundation for at-risk children and youth to develop their creative talents, strengthen their cognitive abilities, and improve their educational experience.” Because music offers a possible avenue of financial success and upward socioeconomic mobility, it is an especially attractive activity for adolescents.
In collaboration with the Bachata Academy, the world’s first program dedicated to teaching Bachata (the traditional music of the barrios that has become an important Dominican cultural export), Mercer music students will also have the exciting opportunity to acquire knowledge of and appreciation for Bachata while providing instrumental instruction to Bachata Academy students in guitar, percussion, and voice, as well as mentor the next generation of Bachata musicians and future Bachata teachers.
For more information, e-mail MercerOnMission@mercer.edu or call (478) 301-2992.