Rosaliz Calderon

Fundación Infantil Zancadas, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Rosaliz  Calderon

Rosaliz is the first and only teacher in the Dominican Republic to specialise in education within hospital settings. In 2016, while working in social assistance for cancer patients, she discovered that students with serious illness often do not have good access to education while in hospital and cannot continue their studies. As a result she decided to dedicate herself to hospital education, and, after a fact-finding tour in Spain, she returned to the Dominican Republic, raised money and launched the ZANCADAS project for Hospital Pedagogy. This initiative promotes the education of hospitalised children so that they are not delayed in their learning or personal development – while at the same time trying to meet the affective and social needs generated as a result of hospitalisation and the illness they suffer from.   

In this area, however, there are a number of challenges – economic, social and political. The lack of financial resources and investment also means a lack of facilities, research, materials, teaching staff and training. In addition, government policies on the rights of sick children to access education are currently unclear, and there is no national program for this. Medical staff are also often unaware of the benefits, so much of Rosaliz’s work is spent in educating other professionals.  

Through Hospital Pedagogy, Rosaliz has achieved a tremendous amount for the young people in her care. 10 students have completed their undergraduate studies with excellent grades, despite this being thought difficult or impossible. 230 parents have been educated about how their children can continue their education while receiving medical care, and 600+ students have been informed about the early detection of diseases such as cancer. At the same time, training and education on hospital teaching has been provided to around 250 teachers and managers nationwide. During COVID, Rosaliz also continued to provide advice through digital media to teachers and parents so that they could continue supporting children with strategies adapted to their needs. 

As a result, Rosaliz received the “Princesas del Siglo 21” award for Exceptional Women and Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017. In 2019, she received membership of The Association of Volunteers of the Oncological Foundation of the East, for her achievements as the first Hospital Teacher in the Dominican Republic. The National Council of Education has also recently begun to include hospitals in its Ordinances on schooling environments. 

Rosaliz now wants to inspire other teachers to make an impact beyond their own schools, and help her to create classrooms in each hospital in the Dominican Republic. She is currently working on a project for the creation of the first hospital classroom in the country, as well as continuing to provide advice to teachers on how to use their unique talents to help others.