Bringing education to the Guatemala rural areas

Guatemala is a country basically rural and young, with more than a 50% of indigenous population and a 50% of population under 18. At a local level, exclusion in education is really extended, being Chiquimula and Totnicapán two of the most affected areas. This exclusion lies in several factors: on one hand, faced with the lack of economic resources, the poorest families decide that their children work to pull through, without bearing in mind about importance of children and above all girls, of accessing to studies, and on the other hand, the marginalization suffered by the indigenous ethnic makes of racial origin a cause of rejection when the time comes for being admitted at school. 

Guatemala is the country in America Central with more child labour. The International Labour Organization (ILO) latest statistics show that about 507.000 Guatemalan girls and boys between 7 and 14 are working. If we think it carefully child labour seems to affect mainly to males (for example, from this range age between 7 and 14 years, 66% are males), but even girls do hidden jobs, above all domestic labour at home and in private houses, that in most of the cases does not  appear in the official figures as child labour and even it is not paid. Another characteristic of this phenomenon is that child labour rate is higher between indigenous children, a 56% compared to the 44% of non-indigenous children. 

According to the opinion of the teaching community, the few children who reach to attend to school have to face even another problems: low economic level of their families, the undervalued idea about education or the Education Ministry limited budget.


Entreculturas Response

The project Entreculturas supports in Guatemala is based on the Chiquimula and Totonicapán areas, where education exclusion is more notice. In particular, Fe y Alegria, our local partner is in charge of 22 schools there, spread between several municipalities. These schools came up during the 90's and by then they were known as "unity schools", what meant that in only one school and with only one teacher concentrated all pupils, regardless their age or education level. This was caused because by that time the education population was really low. 

As the time passes by, the population in these rural areas has been little by little growing, new posts for new teachers were offered, making in this way possible the change from "unit" to "multi-level". However scholar infrastructures haven't changed and the classrooms have remained small, with the didactic material damaged, giving raise to a great concentration of pupils. 

Thanks to Entreculturas' support the sanitary facilities in these schools have been improved, a nourishment service has been implemented through scholar canteens and investments in training for the teachers in order to get a quality education have been made. Regarding this last matter, basically, an effort in intercultural bilingual training in order to facilitate from schools the respect and approach to the indigenous for the rest of the population has been made. 

On the other hand Fe y Alegría try to ensure the continuation in the education process of the young people once they finish the primary level. For this reason, the Education Centre nº10 of Fe y Alegria was launched - Santa Marta Jocotán where pupils can have access to an academic training or any professional workshop achievement (tailoring & fashion, carpentry, typing, bakery, cooking and an important training in agriculture and farm issues). 

Once more, Entreculturas and Fe y Alegria in Guatemala, prove with this project their bet on disadvantaged inhabitants, on those ones, that due to one or other reasons, but always in an unfair way, are excluded of the enjoyment of their fundamental rights. With this project, definitively, what we try is to balance these inequalities from the beginning so that trough an education that help them to develop themselves, the Guatemalan are who claim for their share and at the same time through equality they can contribute to the general development of their country.