05 February 2007

The Guatemalan Education System

According to the Ministry of Education of Guatemala, the country has a universal education system. In my area, every community has a primary school (grades 1-6). There is less than a dozen public schools beyond grade six in the country.

The public education system is riddled with unsurmountable problems. It’s not nearly the size it should be given its population. On registration days, schools have to turn away more students than they accept due to a lack of books, desks, and classroom space. Parents sometimes bring in their own desk and chair so that their child will have a chance

In many of Guatemalan’s poorest families, parents make some grim decisions for their children. The dream of most poor parents is to have sons go to school to grade six and daughters long enough to read and write. Costs of schooling unfortunately make that nearly impossible.

Item

Monthly Cost

Wood for Cooking

$40

Rent for Small Concrete House

$70

Income of a Farmhand

$120

Tuition & Supplies for 1 7th Grader

$34

To send a child to primary school it costs $13 per month, or $130 for one school year. To send a child to middle school, it costs $27, or $270 per year. Schools provide virtually no supplies, so students pay about $7 per month in supplies. Though these numbers appear paltry, one must remember that the standard wage for unskilled labor is $120 per month, and the average poor family has 6 children. If a family sent all six children to primary school the same year, they wouldn’t have enough money left over to buy wood to cook.

The owner of my house is a school teacher, and she told me all of this while we washed dishes one night. She also told me that she is part of a group of schoolteachers who organized a program where people from around the world would sponsor the children and, in turn, would receive letters and photos of the child. The children would be selected by the teachers from their classes as those with the great dedication but little financial means. Of the group of 15 students sponsored, 13 eventually graduated from high school, something accomplished by less than half of Guatemala’s population. Now adults, these graduates are able to provide for their families the opportunities their parents couldn’t provide without help.

Over time, connections were lost and the program stopped receiving donations. She decided a few months ago to start it again, and asked me recently if I could help her find a grant or organization interested in sponsoring such a program. However, there’s no time for that for this school year (school starts in January), and am asking anyone interested in donating any amount of a year’s tuition to this cause. I personally rarely donate to such groups because I don’t know where the money’s going, but I know that every dollar of this goes straight to pay for children’s tuition. To donate, you can send a check to my parents’ house (below) written out to me, and I promise to pass the money along before the next tuition due date (at the end of February). Also, if it interests you in maintaining contact with a sponsored child, simply let me know.

Tuition Fund for Children of Chimaltenango

c/o Andrew Trembley

240 Beechwood Rd.

Hoosick Falls, NY 12090-4710

5 comments:

amyprev said...

Great plan, Andrew! You can count on us to help out, and I will spread your blog around the hospital. Finally, a charity I can trust 100%. I couldn't ask for better than personal delivery by my brother to the frontline! Keep up the good work!
Love,
Amy

Anonymous said...

Great idea Andrew! We will definitely help out! Thanks for letting us know! We'll help spread the good word!
love,
Aunt Sarah

Anonymous said...

Andrew,
Good idea. Will pass in on to you.
Dad

Anonymous said...

Andrew, I think it's great to take on another charity. Sounds like a great one too. I will send them some $$ as soon as I'm out of school.----Pete

Corby & Kari Lewis said...

My wife and I are running a very similar program in our site. I might suggest you use the FOG program to help you donors get tax deductions, provide an option for sending money after you leave Peace Corps, and give the option for corporate matching contributions.
cklewisnguat.blogspot.com

I am required to mention that this blog doesn´t reflect the opinions of the Peace Corps.