The Tico Times was recognized this week by the Inter-American Press Association for its Reaching Out program, an effort to put the newspaper in the hands of Costa Rican students learning English.
Reaching Out was named as a finalist for the association’s Newspaper in Education Award. First place went to the Mexican newspaper Novedades de Quintana Roo for its Innovation in Education program.
Under the Reaching Out program, businesses buy discounted subscriptions of The Tico Times and the newspaper distributes them to public schools targeted by the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) for English-language education. The U.S. Embassy also trains instructors on how to teach English using the newspapers. The program was founded in 2006 as part of 50th anniversary celebration of The Tico Times.
“It’s a great honor to be part of such a prestigious award,” said Rodrigo León, director of Reaching Out. “The fact that we are finalists speaks very well of the program.”
In 2006, nine schools throughout the country received Tico Times subscriptions, thanks to sponsoring companies Intel, Proctor & Gamble, Scotiabank, Pfizer, Walmart, Hewlett-Packard, Grupo Real, Textos Educativos, Grupo Inmobiliaria Génesis and GlaxoSmithKline. This year’s sole sponsor to date, the Canadian-based Scotiabank, has made The Tico Times available at two high schools.
Sponsors also send volunteers to the schools to help teach English classes and chat with the students. Volunteers from Scotiabank regularly visit classes at the Bilingual Experimental High School of Moravia, a suburb northeast of San José.
The school receives about 300 copies of The Tico Times a week, which it uses to teach English to students ages 16 and 17.
“(The volunteers) really motivate the students,” said Gabriela Hernández, who coordinates the school’s English program.
“When people come from the outside to speak English to them… it thrills them. It really thrills them.”