This past Tuesday was “Labor Day” in Guatemala, but we think it is important to keep the feeding center open for the nutritional value. The only problem was Tess and I were in charge of cooking. The menu consisted of pancakes, sausages, eggs, and bananas! Thankfully we did have three mothers help us with the cooking and cleaning. When I poured the pancake mixture on the griddles, the mothers gasped. They were amazed at the convenience of a griddle. One of the mothers admitted to being nervous about how to properly use the griddle, and Tess taught her how to flip the pancakes. It’s the little things!
I email a monthly email to the sponsors of the children at the feeding center. (If you support the general fund of the feeding center and would like to receive the newsletter, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org) This month I included some quick facts about the education system in Guatemala. I think it is important to understand the values and culture of the country in order to better understand the decisions made by the parents. Here are some quick facts about the educational system:
–Education is not mandatory –The majority of the parents are uneducated. –Guatemala has a three-tier system of education starting with primary school (k-6), followed by secondary school (7-9) and or high school (2-3 years of training), but few will choose the latter because it doesn’t give you means to work but it’s only preparatory for College (which 90% will never attend) –74.5% of the population age 15 and over is illiterate, the lowest literacy rate in Central America. –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. –For poorer students, time spent in school could be time better spent working to sustain the family. The children are more valuable for work than school. Education requires long-term results. –Primary grade teachers make $1.38 per hour. –Schools are provided extremely limited/ no resources along with overcrowded classrooms (and by classrooms we mean students, in some marginal areas the teachers could meet in a shed and have teach more than one grade at a time). –There is no accountability for the schools or teachers (no state testing, etc) –Gender inequality in education is common — male literacy and school enrolment exceeds female rates in all aspects. Out of the 2 million children who do not attend school in Guatemala, the majority are indigenous girls living in rural areas. Most families subscribe to patriarchal traditions that tie women to a domestic role and the majority would rather send a son than a daughter to school if they could afford it. –Malnutrition plays a huge role in the developmental stages –The schools do not address or provide help for students with learning disabilities –Literacy is not valued or encouraged throughout the country.
***Thank you Rita Broome (& Wikipedia) for all of your help!