Rural schools are neglected by the government and are plagued with inadequate space, insufficient lighting, poor maintenance and broken desks and chairs. The teachers are poorly trained and have no books or teaching materials. Students fail because they are more apt to serve as child laborers instead of attending class, their parents are illiterate so they cannot help with homework, or they simply cannot afford the school supplies.
We work with parents and teachers to strengthen the quality of education and provide access to learning opportunities for rural children. Our Teachers Helping Teachers program is designed to instill the love of learning at an early age.
It started with one teacher, Magely Luch, and nine at-risk kids in kindergarten in El Sargento. We hired a teacher to work in Magely’s classroom one on one with the nine kids while Magely worked with the remaining 18 students in her class. Our Director, Dr. Sharon Carlson, trained both teachers how to use the reading and math materials Sharon designed. After seven months students could spell four and five letter words, print the entire alphabet, and identify numbers up to 100.
We achieved phenomenal success with the pilot program. Young, indigenous kids can learn reading and math skills given activities, materials and well-trained teachers. Today, over 700 kindergarten students in 31 schools are advancing well beyond the Guatemala curriculum for their grade level and age.
Indigenous women typically complete fewer than 2 years of schooling and for every 100 children, fewer than 40 will continue on to 7th grade and only 18 will complete high school. That’s less than two out of ten children will complete high school.
We believe passionately that education is a means for achieving greater social equality and integrating the dignity and traditions of Guatemala’s indigenous cultures with the ever-changing wider world. Keeping kids in school is the only way to break the cycle of poverty but young adults face obstacles beyond their control. Their parents cannot afford school tuition and other expenses for middle, high school, and college students. Indigenous students living in remote villages are at a disadvantage because they do not have access to computers and the internet.
Our scholarship program supports the cost of tuition, uniforms, and supplies. Students have access to computers and the internet at our learning center. We offer our students tutoring in English, math, statistics, physics, and computer skills. The student and their families have access to our health and dental clinics.
Guidance is provided by our Scholarship Coordinator, who is a trained psychologist. Students’ grades are reviewed every three months and counseling is provided when necessary. Our goal is to help the students achieve passing grades and graduate.
To be accepted into our program, an applicant must prove need (we do home visits), take a test designed to determine how committed he or she is to attend school, participate in an interview with the student’s parent/guardian, and grades from previous classes must be above a C average. The student and parent/guardian signs a contract detailing all of the responsibilities of the student, parent/guardian, and us. Each year we have more students apply for help than we have resources.
Sponsor a student:
You can choose to contribute monthly or annually to help a motivated and bright student stay in school.
Students in our scholarship program have many obstacles to overcome which makes staying in school a very difficult challenge. Many have to work to help support the family. Because of the distance they have to travel to school, transportation is always a problem. Some do not have electricity or running water at their homes. Students suffer from low self-esteem, abandonment, depression, and stress. They are victims of the daily struggles caused by poverty.
Our full-time psychologist counsels our students and their families. We do whatever we need to do to keep the students in school. Many times they need reinforcement in core subjects to meet our academic requirements. Sometimes they need a hug. Sometimes they need food and clothes.
At our learning center, we offer classes in English, math, and technology. Students have access to the internet and assistance with homework.
Indigenous women in remote villages have never attended school or only finished third grade. They cannot read, write or identify numbers and cannot help their children with homework. The women must rely on their husband’s meager income to support their family. They rarely can make family decisions and do not have a means to earn an income. By no choice of their own, they are victims of poverty.
In early 2017, we started a pilot program to teach reading, writing, and math skills to 12 women living in a rural village. They attended classes 3 days a week for 2 hours each session, led by a young, college graduate from their village. Results proved these women were motivated, bright, and had a strong desire to learn, not only so they could be more productive adults but so they could be a good example for their children. Plans are to expand the program into two more villages in 2018.
We offer sewing classes to teach women how to make useful items for their home, sell in their village or at the local market. We enhance learning by offering business and creative art classes. They are empowered to work at home and earn an income, thus increasing their economic conditions, self-esteem and self-worth.
You can help women in rural Guatemala. Support this project by making a donation to our Women’s Learning and Empowerment Project.
The staggering truth is 60% of the teachers in Guatemala have never turned on a computer. Computers are not available in the majority of the schools, especially in rural schools. Students are at a clear disadvantage. The government’s curriculum requires computer classes, however, they do not supply computers.
None of the elementary school students and the majority of the middle school students in the rural schools had never touched a computer prior to our Technology in Schools program.
To combat this deficiency, we created two programs:
How you can get involved:
The cost to transform a classroom into a technology classroom is roughly $6,000. This includes 10 computers, desks, chairs, dedicated electricity, security bars on the windows, and teacher training.
The vast majority of rural schools lack government support and are overcrowded. Many have leaky roofs and walls are deteriorating. Most do not have proper sanitary bathrooms or hand washing stations.
Building new classrooms and upgrading schools are critical improvements so teachers have adequate space to create an enhanced learning environment and students will be motivated to stay in school.
Teachers and parents express their needs to us in writing. Before any grant is approved, we arrange a site visit to determine feasibility, the quality of its leadership, commitment of the teachers and parents, and the level of enthusiasm for the project on the part of all involved. We require the community to contribute 20 – 25% of the cost of materials and volunteer their labor for each project.
School projects include: