Buen Consejo School, Buenos Aires, Argentina
What We Do
Buen Consejo (Our Lady of Good Council) is a K-12 school for 831 disadvantaged children in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We provide academic, job-skills and life-skills education. Thirteen of our teachers are alumnae.
Promote the social inclusion of disadvantaged children by providing them with education, nutrition, and a safe environment, improving their future prospects for a good job, further study or job training.
Overcome divisions in society by bringing together various sectors—governments, businesses, families and civil society organizations, including neighborhood associations, foundations, schools and universities—linking low-income communities with others, and offering the disadvantaged an academic and human education. Replicate the Buen Consejo model throughout the city and country, including through consulting services.
Buen Consejo (Our Lady of Good Council) was founded in 1918 by the alumnae association of Santa Unión High School. Their idea was to build a primary school and a high school for disadvantaged girls that would offer the same high-quality education that they themselves had received. They succeeded in doing so.
In 2001 ASES was asked to take charge of both schools. Since then, there have been many advances. A complete kindergarten program began in 2003 and moved into its new building in 2010. A year later, boys joined it. In 2015 a new facility for boys opened its doors for grades K through 4, the first phase in the development of full primary and high schools for boys. There are 109 boys enrolled. We aim to provide space for 1,700 girls and boys.
482 primary school.
154 high school.
In the last 4 years we’ve had 78 graduates, all of whom are enrolled in accredited colleges and teacher-training institutes. Our 18 most recent graduates are studying for careers in Management, Accounting, Psychology, Social Work, Culinary Arts, Medicine, Nursing, Food Technology, Education, Sports Journalism, Graphic Design, Law.
About Villa 21-14, the neighborhood of 60% of our students
According to the 2010 census:
- It’s the most populous neighborhood of Buenos Aires, along with Zabaleta and Magaldi (geographic unit), and has some 45,000 inhabitants.
- The majority are young people: 44% are under 17.
- More babies are born here than anywhere else in Buenos Aires.
- There are 4.5 children per family, compared to 2.5 in the rest of the city.
- 43% of families have a female head of household.
- 40% of households have more than 5 members, with subsequent overcrowding. In the rest of the city, 60% have 2 or fewer members.
- Over 80% of the inhabitants lack health insurance. In the rest of the city the figure is 20%.
- 72% have no high school degree. In the rest of the city, 24%.
- 90% of workers earn less than the minimum wage.
The testimonial of a graduate
My Time at Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo [Our Lady of Good Counsel) School
My mother, Dolores, searched all over for a school for me. The good ones seemed to cost too much, but one day God pointed her toward a solution. She happened to come across an aunt of hers that she hadn’t seen in years, and she recommended Buen Consejo, which she knew very well: her daughter went there. My mother visited the school and, as she says, “fell in love with it”: every way, the whole building, the big chapel, the happy kids running around, the teachers.
Soon I was enrolled in the preschool of Buenco, as we affectionately call it. Since that day in 1989 all my memories of each and every one of my days there are happy ones. I can’t help smiling at how I’d cry if for some reason or other on some day I couldn’t go to school. People couldn’t believe it because I had to get up at five in the morning every school day from the time I was five until I was eighteen.
I had a bit of a tough time starting out, making friends, but all the ladies always helped me … in that, and in everything from long division to a homework problem. When I got to high school I was terrified that I’d no longer have them to talk to whenever I needed them. But, once again, God was there: they started having tutors who helped us, individually, to have goals and to make good decisions. Thanks to them I learned a lot about myself and I got better every day.
The teachers, the Board, all the wonderful people who make up our Buenco, from Omar, Cledi and Susi to the Principal, the whole staff, they’re what make it unique. They’re the people who build up Buenco day to day and educate hundreds of girls like me who otherwise would have to put up with an education that’s “in keeping with” their financial situation. I find that my academic background is as good as, and in some ways better than that of my fellow students at Austral University.
But the most important thing the school taught me was values. It helped me become a good person—at least I’d like to think so—someone who’s upright, honest, and, especially, proud in the good sense of the word, happy with who I am and what I have. They made me feel so sure of myself that I dared to dream and take chances and never just go along or give up. Everyone who makes up Buenco, including Father Pedro and his sister Ángeles, helped me to build my personality, my virtues, and thanks to them I’m on the verge of getting my college degree.
If Buen Consejo didn’t exist, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be where I am today. And it’s not just me. This institution cares about people and doesn’t see just names on a piece of paper. I know for a fact that it cares about each student, making her feel what she is: unique. Thanks to the human and academic education it affords—not just to the girls but to their families—so many disadvantaged little ones and adolescents dare to dream. The school doesn’t just help them imagine a brighter future—it gives them the tools to build it.
It’s been almost four years since my graduation and I still look on it as “my school”. Buenco burns itself into your heart. I’ll always be grateful to everyone there because there’s no question that the big family of Buen Consejo is a fundamental part of who I am today. Thank you, thank you so much. Please keep on helping build better futures than the ones that seem to be all around us.
–Celina Díaz Melo, Senior in Communications, Austral University
For more information, in Spanish only, please see http://www.buenconsejo.edu.ar