Background situation

The level of education in Guatemala is extremely low. According to studies of Unicef on the American continent only in Haiti the level of education is lower. In urban areas the school have more facilities and there is more control on the activities of the teachers and therefore the level of education in urban areas normally is much higher than in rural areas, especially in Maya villages. In some Maya villages the level of education is so low that you can hardly say that the children receive education. Sometimes teachers are absent for days or even weeks and it is common that children copy almost all day what the teacher says or writes on the blackboard. The low level of education is not only due to lack of motivation of the teachers because there are also many motivated teachers. A lack of educative materials is an obstacle for most teachers to give proper education. Many schools also lack facilities such as too few classrooms and sometimes even absence of toilets.

What do we do?

The Guacamaya Foundation tries to improve the level of education in an integral manner. The most important activity is the development of the various educative programs and put them in use in various schools. The programs make education more entertaining and meaningful for the children and the teachers receive well-developed educative materials, which makes it easier for them to teach well. Teachers sometimes also receive crayons, scissors, glue and other materials to organize challenging hands on activities for the children, which because of a lack of materials normally are not organized.

The Guacamaya Foundation also publishes a children’s newspaper. In the newspaper children can read a story about the experiences of Juanito and Maria (who also appear in the educative programs) and the adventures of Pancho the howler monkey. Local children are also invited to write stories and make drawings for the newspaper. Many, especially Maya children, have very low reading skills, which greatly affects their school performance. The children’s newspaper is a valuable tool to increase the reading skills of children and to give attention to the various project activities.

In cooperation with local schools trips are organized to the educative centre, which are greatly appreciated, by students as well as teachers. Because of the different forms of assistance teachers become more motivated which improves the level of education. The foundation also organizes activities for students of teacher training colleges to help them to be able to give meaningful education, for example a class about butterflies.

The foundation also organizes cultural festivals for schools during which the students participate in various activities. They present an object that they have made out of garbage. There is a drawing and singing contest and a group of students performs a traditional dance. Nature and culture are the themes of the different activities. Participating children are given the chance to shine and show their talent in front of an audience. Enterprising teachers appreciate the opportunity to participate in the event to be able to stimulate their students to show all they are able to. Fagioli College organized in 2015 a beautiful festival about nature. The foundation has organized some years ago a bird festival at a coffee plantation.

Various schools have been assisted with the construction of an extra classroom, compost toilets and school kitchens (to be able to prepare effectively and hygienically school meals).