Guatemala has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the Western Hemisphere, with 25% of the population unable to read or write. Guatemala’s poverty rate is 59.3%, with 23% of the population living in extreme poverty. School is compulsory only through the 6th grade, and many children do not make it that far.
Many factors affect school attendance. Economic inability to buy school supplies – as many schools are underfunded and in remote areas- is one problem. A bigger problem is that children who are unable to read with comprehension by the 3rd grade lose the ability and interest to continue.
These children stop attending school. Secondary school (7-12 grades) is a privilege, rather than the norm. Instead, boys will go work to help support their families, girls will begin to learn domestic work, or they will be at-risk with no supervision or guidance while families are working to barely get by.
Giving these children literacy skills, and quality reading materials that challenge and expand their imaginations of what is possible, is their best fighting chance at moving beyond poverty even if the circumstances of their life mean leaving school early.
“The ability to read by third grade is critical to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential and their ability to contribute to the nation’s economy and its security.” – Annie E. Casey Foundation
Global Learning Exchange Initiative (GLXi) is working to make sure every at-risk child in Guatemala has the opportunity to leave 3rd grade with the literacy skills needed to break the cycle of poverty. Literacy becomes a revolutionary act in a country where 25% of the people are illiterate, and where education has only recently become a focus of increased investment by the national government.
How do we plan on doing getting kids literate? By equipping under-resourced and under-educated teachers with tools, ongoing support, and an engaging curriculum to teach literacy in their first, second, and third grade classrooms.
We started in 2014 with 1 teacher and 30 students. In 2019, GLXi worked with 42 public school teachers who taught 1053 students in 5 different regions of Guatemala. GLXi’s program Open Books, Open Minds has grown rapidly in the last 5 years. We want to keep growing. We want to train more teachers. We want to reach more kids who need to know that learning is fun, adaptive, and creative.
We know that the best way to create change in a community or a school is to put the tools and knowledge in the hands of those with the greatest influence – THE TEACHERS. We don’t build schools. We don’t have a top-down approach. We focus on collaboration, supporting teachers in the public school system in Guatemala.
We show them what we’ve learned about education, child development, and the inherent creativity of early literacy and decoding symbols. We offer them training them on a curriculum built on this research. We support them throughout the year with professional development.
Most importantly, we listen to them. We listen to how they apply the curriculum in their classrooms – what works, and what doesn’t. We support adaptations based on feedback. We foster creativity and excitement to learn new skills in the teachers themselves, and they lead the children in their classrooms with that same energy.
This is where YOU come in. The teachers of Guatemala need your support.
Every January we bring teachers from the diverse regions of Guate to GLXi’s annual training conference in Antigua, Guatemala. From Beginner to Advanced track, with the new addition of Intro to Drawing in Early literacy, teachers come to learn from experienced early literacy experts.
The conference is a critical touch-point for teachers. There they get the opportunity not just to learn, but to connect with fellow public school teachers from around Guatemala, and to teach us how to better support them throughout the year.
Teachers pay nothing to attend the training. GLXi funds everything, from the sometimes 10 hour bus ride, the meals they need to eat to and from training, to their lodging and classroom supplies for the upcoming school year.
We want them to know that everyone who gives to GLXi is really giving to them, supporting their commitment to becoming change-makers for the generations of children they will teach.
Here’s where your support can help the teachers of Guatemala.
- $20 can buy enough notebooks and pencils for an entire classroom for the year.
- $50 can help develop a Virtual Learning Library for teachers to access anywhere for professional development.
- $100 can buy new Spanish Language books for a classroom.
- $250 will cover a teacher attending the training conference.
- $500 will by an analog “literacy kit” that includes everything needed to set up a new teacher in the program.
OR you can become an ally by spreading the word! Share the work on your social media, volunteer to become a GLXi ambassador in your community, or let us know if you’re interested in joining a Friends of GLXi Committee!
GLXi’s Open Books, Open Minds program works. 82% of students in GLXi classrooms end the school year at or above grade level, as opposed to 54% of students in control classrooms across grade levels.
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