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Rethinking Education in Guatemala

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Children will be motivated to learn because their hearts and heads are engaged in improving their daily lives  – Grace Lee Boggs

The right education inspires healthy social change by empowering individuals to think and act for themselves. Education opens minds to the creative potential that sits inside every one of us. But what happens when the key institution tasked with providing a formal education fails?

A report by Avivara, an educational non-profit working in Guatemala, estimated “that less than 15% of all classrooms nationwide meet minimum standards for classroom space, teaching materials, classroom equipment and furniture, and water/sanitation. In the rural villages of Guatemala, that percentage drops to 0%.” Schools are falling apart, underpaid teachers frequently strike, and students are passed through the system without mastering even basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills.

Education in Guate

Most classes involve rote memorization and copying things off the board. Homework is easily copied from a friend or printed off of Wikipedia. One recent homework assignment distributed to middle school, high school, and even university classes, demanded that students handwrite the numbers 1-10,000 in Roman numerals, Mayan numerals, and Indo-Arabic numerals. Repetition can be a useful tool for perfecting handwriting, and learning numbers is an essential part of a formal education, but these students spent hours upon hours transcribing numbers in a zombie-like state.

Education in Guate

A grand vision for the future would be to overhaul this defunct system. For the time being however, Philanthropiece and our partners are striving to provide our students with viable solutions. Limitless Horizons Ixil has offered teacher trainings in Chajul and regularly provides tutoring and counseling services for its students. Philanthropiece Scholars attend university on the weekends, but during the week, they engage in highly personalized projects that promote creative, independent thinking. They think critically about real issues in their lives. When Philanthropiece accounting and business administration students Marcos and Encri recently entered the program, they were not given all the answers, but instead offered a free hand to create their own social enterprise in Chajul. Whether their business plan succeeds or fails, they will be problem-solving and thinking every day. You can’t copy that homework!

Education in Guate

Photo Credits: Sue Rissberger Photography

 

 

 

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