G.E.P. in Guatemala - The Need
In 1996, Global Education Partnership founded its Guatemalan Division in Totonicapán, a rural area in Western Guatemala that is 99% Maya-Quiche Indian. After a deeply destructive civil war that lasted over 35 years, the people of Guatemala are now rebuilding, community by community. Decades of civil conflict have taken their toll, particularly in the rural areas.
In much of rural Guatemala, children have very little access to education. Although 62% of Guatemala's population is located in rural areas, only 1.8% of high school students are from rural areas. Many "autogestionadas", or "self-help" schools, are being built and maintained entirely by indigenous Maya-Quiche communities in the Totonicapán area, with little or no government assistance. The following are descriptions of schools as observed by G.E.P. staff in Guatemala:
Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta, Chuicaxtan - There are currently 105 Students enrolled in grades 1-6, with three teachers to attend to them all. They use books but not, as I observed, on a daily basis. There are books available but they are very outdated and geared towards the older students. Any other books that might be used are bought by parents.
Escuela Normal Rural de Occidente - In recent years an average of 200 students per year have been denied the opportunity to continue their education due to the lack of classroom space in the school. Since all other local secondary schools charge extraordinary monthly fees, most students that are turned away are unable to pursue their education at a different school. One additional classroom will provide the opportunity of further education to 50 additional students per year.
According to recent nationwide study, only 25% of Guatemala's primary and secondary school teachers are fully qualified to teach. With high unemployment rates in the rural areas G.E.P. serves, students need to gain extra skills they can not find in the classroom if they wish to find a job. Computer skills and business skills are critical for Guatemalan youth to find gainful employment.
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