El Salvador’s schools, known as Liceo Cristiano, were started in response to the extreme poverty amongst many of the children of El Salvador. Many of these kids wandered the streets of San Salvador, the capital, selling newspapers, shining shoes, or even wiping windshields. Because of the dire need to support their families, many of them did not attend school and were condemned to a vicious poverty cycle throughout their lives.
We started with 81 boys and girls taken basically off the streets of San Salvador and provided elementary education—which I felt at the time was basic for any promotion out of that poverty cycle. Elementary education in El Salvador at that time was comprised of three cycles of three grades, which would take them through the ninth grade. We eventually offered the completion of the high school program, which in El Salvador is called Bachillerato. Eventually, for those special students the university was created to allow them to prepare for professional pursuits.
Those original 81 boys and girls developed into 37 campuses across the nation that now take care of about 17,000 children. It is estimated that in the almost 50 years the schools have existed (they started in 1963), close to a million children have been through the program at one time or another. This has impacted the country in an unusual way, and some of these children, who were otherwise condemned to poverty, are now leaders in the nation. Many of them are medical doctors, attorneys, pastors, missionaries, and men and women of all professions—not the least of which are those dedicated to the teaching profession. We get most of our teachers for the program out of the school program that concludes with university training.
Much of the good that has been done for these very needy children of El Salvador has been done through scholarships. Sponsors from the United States and Canada have been gracious to provide donations each month for not only their education but, in many cases, hot meals, medical help, and other related essentials that a child or young person needs while going through their education process. The school program has evolved into one of the most effective ways of impacting society and affecting a nation like El Salvador.