La Bastilla

La Bastilla Technical Agricultural School, Nicaragua

Key facts:

  • This school is based on a coffee estate, in an area where only 20% of young people currently attend secondary school
  • Along with providing an academic education, the school also teaches a technical diploma in agro-business and runs seven school businesses  
  • The businesses include an Ecolodge & restaurant where it is possible to hike and birdwatch, chicken and egg production, as well as a dairy plant, pigs, and a vegetable garden 
  • Graduates from the school leave with places in futher education, job offers, vaiable business plans to set up new businesses, and the business and finanical skills to support their families 

La Bastilla, Nicaragua: 30-Second Video Highlights

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La Bastilla Technical High School is based on a coffee estate, in the village of Las Colinas within the district of Cuá-Bocay – one of eight districts in the Jinotega Department, about 180km north of the capital Managua. In the Jinotega Department approximately 25% of the population is between 15 and 19 years old (73,000 individuals) but the secondary school attendance rate is only 20.1% . 

We worked with Fundación de Educación y Emprendedurismo Rural (FEER) to establish La Bastilla Technical High School, an agricultural, technical based high school, to meet the needs of the students in the area and currently cover 85% of their total running costs through their school businesses.

School Businesses

Production at the school began in March 2009 after we worked with FEER to establish a business plan. The school is now in its fifth year of operatons and on track to becoming financially self-sufficient. All seven of the planned productive activities are underway and students are gaining invaluable business skills:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Pigs for meat and insemination services
  • La Bastilla Ecolodge & Restaurant
  • Vegetable garden
  • Bakery
  • Coffee

It works!

There are about 60 students in 3 grade levels benefiting from a combination of high quality academic and entrepreneurial technical education. This allows them to graduate from the school with the skills required by the job market for a well paid graduate job! 

The success of this innovative approach is clear - two-thirds of the school’s graduates in 2013 were offered good jobs following their third-year work experience placements. One student has been offered a full scholarship to the prestigious EARTH University in Costa Rica, and will join another La Bastilla gradute already there.

Three years into the La Bastilla School project, a mid-term impact evaluation study showed that:

  • 6 months after leaving school 93% of graduates are studying at university, at another technical college or are following a professional path requiring a qualification. Of those who are working, all are earning considerably more than the national average. 
  • 79% of graduates actively support their families' economic activity through the practical, theoretical and financial planning skills they acquired at La Bastilla School and from specialised courses.  
  • 100% of graduates want to start their own business within the next five years and many have already started to plan them, mainly in their own communities.

Relevant, practical education really does reduce barriers to achievement and transform lives.  

In the words of our students and their parents:

"Thanks to this school I learnt to look at life in a different way. It opened doors for me and turned me into a young man with an entrepreneurial mentality."
Darwin Montenegro Blandón, 17, Third Year

"For us it is a great accomplishment that our kids can accomplish more than we have been able to accomplish in life" 
Parents of Ignacia and Humberto Alaniz Rizo, 17 and 21, Third and First year respectively

Visit the La Bastilla Ecolodge

Located in the stunning Datanli-El Diablo nature reserve, at a height of 1200m, La Bastilla Ecolodge, founded in 2009, is a hidden gem in the mountains of Northern Nicaragua. At the Ecolodge you will stay in beautiful and environmentally friendly cabins or deck camping, while enjoying marvellous panoramic views of the primary forest, hiking trails, coffee tours, exotic birds, crystalline streams - simply nature! 

In addition to its spectacular surroundings, what truly distinguishes La Bastilla Ecolodge are its social and educational objectives, which you can support by volunteering with us - whilst improving your language skills through Spanish classes. As the main business of La Bastilla School, all profits from the Ecolodge are reinvested in the education of students from low-income families, offering new generations opportunities to reduce poverty.

La Bastilla Ecolodge is a proud member of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers to make a lasting impact in the community at their travel destination. If a traveller save just a few kilos of space in a suitcase and takes supplies for the La Bastilla schools, they make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families. Please click here http://www.packforapurpose.org/destinationscentral-america/nicaragua/la-bastilla-ecolodge/to see what supplies are needed for our projects.

Visit the La Bastilla Ecolodge website now!

Please help to make further progress - donate to this project!

This project needs your support to help the school's educational enterprises develop and to improve the staff's ability to provide a high quality education. Go to our Donate page to support this project now!

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