By: Mark Fitzgerald
Starting this school year, The San Diego Union-Tribune extended its Newspaper In Education program to schools across the border to Tijuana, Mexico.
“We have teachers [in Tijuana] all the time now, saying, ‘We want your papers down here, too.’ They have got a lot of energy, and they are really enjoying having NIE,” said Kim Holm, the Union-Tribune’s NIE development coordinator.
The Union-Tribune kicked off the program last summer with some NIE workshops, and “from there it really took off,” Holm said.
Each week, the Union-Tribune delivers some 4,300 copies that are used by about 1,000 students in 45 schools. The local college, the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, also participates in the Union-Tribune NIE program.
Most teachers are using the papers to teach English, but the Union-Tribune also provides its curriculum guides for other subjects.
Papers are provided free to the classes — which was ironically one stumbling block to acceptance, Holm said. “They were a little hesitant at first,” she said. “They were saying, are they really free? Will you really deliver right to our school? And we were like, yes, yes, yes.”
No particular individual or company is sponsoring the Tijuana NIE program, Holm said. The copies are being funded now from donations from subscribers with vacation stops, and from companies, such as the UltraStar Cinemas movie theatre group, that do not specify a particular school or city for their sponsorships.
Most of the copies are drawn Thursday through Sunday, Holm said. About 1,500 NIE subscriptions specify Thursday, which is when the child-oriented feature The Mini Page runs. Saturday is also popular because it includes the Union-Tribune’s Spanish-language insert Enlace, Holm said.
The likely next step in the program will be the development of Spanish-language materials, Holm said. “It’s always been a goal of ours in Southern California to bring language diversity to NIE program. So we’re looking for sponsorships for [Spanish-language] materials,” she said.
The Union-Tribune has already produced one Spanish-language NIE product, a burn and fire safety curriculum sponsored by the Burn Institute of Fireman’s Fund Insurance, Holm said.