|Name:||Proyecto Gakko no Go|
|Contributor:||Maria (Loli) Puerta|
|Prize:||Encouragement Prize (3rd place)|
The Gakko no Go project started in 2008 with the aim to teach go in school and has been developed in at least five schools spread all over Venezuela, affiliated to an educational and public catholic organization called "Fe y Alegria" (Faith and Happiness, founded to teach low income family children and teenagers). The Gakko no Go project was born when, in 2008, a young and enthusiastic catholic Sister and teacher named Marisela Mujica was enchanted by the Hikaru no Go comic. She proposed Loli Puerta to start a Go game workshop to schoolchildren on Saturdays.
The name of the school is "Jesus Maestro". It is located in Caracas, in the middle of one of the bigger marginalized favelas in South America. Some players of the Venezuelan Go Association, mostly volunteers, give go lessons during the schoolyear and organise a Final Tournament (both individual and by teams) at the end of the period. Tournaments help the children a lot and stimulate discipline and the desire to improve. In adittion, we observed that the children very much appreciate having a "judge" in their lives. As the project progressed, it became necessary to help the voluntary teachers, because there wasn't any guide or teaching method in the Spanish language. During the 2012-2013 schoolyear, thanks to the International Go Federation, our project found the support to improve the quality of the teaching methods. Fernando Aguilar, the best player of Latin America, supervises us and created a "progressive method". This method has been used ever since and is now available for all countries of Latin America on the webpage of the Iberamerican Go Federation: www.fedibergo.org/ensenanza
The aim of the project is, by using the moral values and rules of living in the game, to help the children improve their self-esteem and tolerance for others with different ideas to their own, improve their thinking and reflecting abilities, improve their capability to establish and obey group norms, and finally increase their school performance. The location where the children live is an extremely dangerous district. These children were forced to become adults too quickly. Our specific target group, therefore, is the 4th grade (children between 10 and 12 years old, an age just before they become teenagers). The project starts at 4th grade in elementary school and continues for three years until 6th grade. After 6th grade, the students have to change to other schools (Fe y Alegria secundary schools; public or private schools). Like this, Go naturally spreads to other places across the city and country, slowly but continuously. The project organisers cannot keep track of all these children, but the Venezuelan Go Association stays in touch and invites them to participate in tournaments.
At the start of the project, there weren't any means: no go boards and go stones, just the library salon as a place to meet.
Volunteers of the Venezuelan Go Association (AVG) provided go equipment. Especially for the project, the AVG made a big magnetic go board. In the meantime, the children themselves made go boards from paper and go stones from caps of soft drinks. In 2009, The AVG got a set of go stones donated by the Thai Go Association. These stones were brought to Venezuela by a volunteer group, The Go International Exchange Society, which kindly loaded up the heavy material from Japan (the stones traveled from Thailand to Japan and finally to Venezuela). These twelve sets allowed the AVG to expand the Gakko No Go Project to four schools: Maria Inmaculada, Kennedy, Aguirre and Bonet (school for the deaf-mute). We have no go books, we use the teaching method written by Mr. Fernando Aguilar. Go stones are very difficult to come by and very expensive. A lady of the AVG is making go boards from denim. The children live in a poor area without many facilities, for most of them the Internet is only available in Jesus Maestro school.
Petare, a favela neighbourhood in Caracas, Venezuela.
Since 2013 we have no financial resources due to the very difficult economic situation in Venezuela.
For the 2015-2016 schoolyear we have a challenge: to keep the project active!
During the project we detected something else to do: to give lectures to the parents and teachers in the schools. Our new challenge is to involve them for better support of the children.
The Gakko no Go Project needs a way to pay teachers who can provide Go classes formally (inside the school program). Volunteer time (Saturdays) is not adequate to sustain and develop the program. One hour of class per week / per school / per teacher costs 10 US$ (transportation to school takes two hours). This comes down to US$400 per year / per school. We would appreciate it very much if somebody can collaborate with us.
Also, if somebody can donate: go stones, things for prizes (like books, go t-shirts, etc), this would help a lot.
Thanks a lot for inviting us to participe!