ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina’s support of the Family of Readers program is having a big impact on schools and families in the town of Rincón de los Sauces and surrounding areas in the province of Neuquén, training more than 100 teachers in the last two years and improving the reading skills of more than 3,500 students.
The affiliate’s partnership with Fundación Leer, a local NGO, began in 2013 and they jointly launched the Family of Readers program in 2014. Fundación Leer seeks to expand literacy and reading in Argentina in the hopes that it will have a long-lasting impact on personal development and social inclusion.
“The community initiatives in Neuquén have been key to building long-term relationships with the local government and opening many doors in the community,” says Daniel De Nigris, ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina Venture Manager. “The Family of Readers program has helped to achieve stronger brand awareness and goodwill towards our company. This is important to support our activities in the area and protect our license to operate.”
For 2015, the program consisted of a two-day teacher training session in June and a Reading Marathon in September. Expanded funding enabled 115 teachers from 11 elementary schools to participate in teacher training, including three rural schools outside of Rincón de los Sauces.
The Reading Marathon showcased all of the work done by teachers and students throughout the year, and provided an opportunity to demonstrate positive experiences with reading. Activities at the schools included plays, puppet shows, book interpretations and poetry readings. Importantly, family members were invited to participate in the creative activities.
“Spending time with the various school directors and participating in activities with the students was inspiring and allowed me to get a full picture of the impact of the program,” says ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina Public and Government Affairs Advisor, Carolina Pascarelli. “The program received a lot of commitment and interest which helped to ensure we could reach as many teachers and students as possible. Teachers and parents alike told me how the promotion of reading has changed the children’s enthusiasm towards school, and parents have also become hands-on with their children’s education.”
ExxonMobil Exploration began operating in Argentina’s unconventional Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas play in Neuquén in 2010. The company holds interests in approximately 900,000 net acres in the unconventional shale oil and shale gas plays of the Vaca Muerta. In 2014, the affiliate announced the discovery of oil and gas, with ExxonMobil’s wells among the best-producing in Vaca Muerta.