The El Salvadorian Ministry of Education’s second robot-building competition took place on Sunday, 25 June 2016. The event focused on developing robots to help solve societal problems. Forty-one schools took part, including two groups of young people from our project with partner organisation Glasswing in El Salvador.
Waste is a serious problem in the streets of Latin America, including El Salvador. Waste is rarely sorted. Young people got to grips with this problem during a project by the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation that included a robot-building competition. A group from the Hacienda Florencia school built an electronic assistant capable of separating waste using multiple sensors. A second robot stacked compressed waste. These projects combine technical skills with creativity and teamwork, and demonstrate to the pupils that their solutions can make an active contribution to improving their community, Carlos Canjura, Education Minister, explains to the news site El Tecleno.
Robot courses keep young people away from gangs
Developing robots is not just a useful educational exercise. The courses are part of Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation’s extracurricular programme, which means that they happen during pupils’ free time. And young people in El Salvador often have a lot of free time, as school officially only takes place in the morning. They spend the afternoons on the streets with nothing meaningful to do – a situation that can have devastating effects, as the streets are where criminal youth gangs recruit new members. Our extracurricular activities counteract these gangs.
Protection against gangs
We use meaningful leisure activities to keep youths in El Salvador away from criminal gangs.