Literacy In Guatemala
74.5% of the population age 15 and over is literate, the lowest literacy rate in Central America. In Guatemala, students had 4.1 years of schooling in 2011 in average, 25.5% of the population are illiterate, with illiteracy rates up to more than 60% in the indigenous population. Indigenous people make up about 42% of the population in Guatemala and mostly reside in poor rural areas with little access to post-primary education. Compared to non-indigenous students who average 5.7 years of schooling. Indigenous students are at a disadvantage with an average of 2.5 years of schooling. Indigenous students achieve lower than non-indigenous (ladino) students in schooling possibly due to greater poverty and lack of indigenous language involvement in public schooling.
Why This Is Happening
With more than half the population of Guatemalans living below the poverty line, it is hard for children going to school, especially indigenous children, to afford the rising cost of uniforms, books, supplies and transportation – none of which are supplied by the government. (These are the areas we can assist at very little cost per student.) This is exacerbated by the fact that, for poorer students, time spent in school could be time better spent working to sustain the family. It is especially hard for children living in rural areas to attend primary school. Most drop out due to the lack of access and largely inadequate facilities. Already with disadvantaged backgrounds, indigenous students attend schools with fewer resources and perform worse on exams than non-indigenous students across Guatemala; this is due to fewer educational materials, poor school infrastructure, and low quality educators.
What We Do To Help
Unlike the United States, Christian Education is supported and encouraged by the Government.
Purochial Schools, or “colegios”, are important to the culture Guatemala and are underfunded by local and external sources. As a Christian Organization, we think it is paramount that we should support Christian Education when and where we can.
One of the most fulfilling projects we have engaged in is the distribution of Bibles. The father of a young man whom we had given a bible, worked for a very small local radio station and took this bible to work with him where he used it to bring the Gospel to his listeners. God works wonders and His way of expanding His blessings are a mystery to us. The “economics of Jesus”. The Bibles we purchase can be bought for $5 each. Another compelling story is that of 12 young school girls who asked for Bibles so they could have a larger impact in giving bible education to their illiterate elders.
Although public education in Guatemala is free, the Government does not provide materials and/or text books. Many families can not afford even the basic school supplies so that their children can attend school. Often the schools are not able to purchase the required text-books or teacher’s manuals. Minimal funds ($25-50) can send a child to school for a year or buy the required teacher’s manuals.
As mentioned earlier, it is not uncommon that public school teachers do not have the necessary materials and guides to properly educate their students. We try and help where we can, but have not been as successful as we would like to be. You can help with your designated donations for this purpose. We have, however, been able to provide 2 trunks of school supplies for students of families who lived “IN” a garbage dump. The smoke from smoldering garbage, the low-hanging smoke in the high heat and humidity and the stench are etched in our minds. Needless to say the conditions were horrible, but the joy of students who received these school supplies was an absolute joy to witness.
We Provide The Following (and more) To Those In Need
Bibles and Christian Outreach
This is one area that we may never see the results of our efforts but we should never stop our efforts. Christianity is often a private matter between God and the person(s) invlolved. We believe that the what we sow, the Spirit will harvest in His time. Please help us demonstrate the love of God to more of His people.
Early on while in serving in Guatemala, we were asked by some teachers to help provide them with needed teacher’s manuals. We were prevented from doing so. Since then, we have made a more concerted effort in secular education by providing materials for students and teachers.
As in the United States, the quality of education in Parochial Schools is often times much better than in Public Schools. When asked, and as we are able to do so, we provide tuition expenses for poor students to attend Parochial Schools. This includes books, supplies, uniforms and transportation.