Guatemala's Western and Central Highlands exhibit one of the most extreme combinations of systemic poverty, illiteracy, and inequality in the hemisphere. One out of three indigenous Guatemalans cannot read or write and four out of five live in poverty.
The GLP Global Grant consists of 4 parts: (1) providing literacy training to teachers and quality children's literature; (2) implementing literacy-strengthening textbook projects; (3) strengthening technological education through computer centers in middle schools; and (4) a youth development program that keeps students in school. The projects are carried out in cooperation with the implementing NGO, Cooperative for Education (CoEd), which provides the technical expertise, field staff, logistical support, and follow-up to ensure that the projects are successful.
- Spark Reading Program: 220 elementary teachers in 20 schools will receive intensive literacy training, along with basic supplies and children's literature appropriate for each grade level. The primary literacy program will benefit approximately 5,500 students.
- Textbook Project: The textbook project for middle school students will provide textbooks in core subjects like science, Spanish, social studies and math in 3 schools. Teachers in the program are trained in integrating textbooks into their daily teaching. Approximately 198 students will receive textbooks through the program.
- Computer Center Project: GLP computer centers prepare middle-school students to enter the workforce by training students in the use of standard business software. The course of study consists of 100 lessons over a 3-year period. The computer centers aspect of this project will increase technological literacy for 532 Guatemalan youth in 4 schools by piloting the use of innovative new routers to expand technology education beyond the walls of the computer classroom to benefit additional youth.
- Rise Youth Development Program: Approximately 750 indigenous young people in 16 communities will benefit from Rotarian mentorship and career development through the youth development program.
Funding for this project will be needed in April 2022 following grant approval, to unlock matching funds from The Rotary Foundation. Project implementation begins in August 2022 and proceeds according to the following timeline:
- August-November, 2022: Rotarians and CoEd purchase router equipment in Guatemala and CoEd sets up the equipment in four existing GLP computer centers. Teachers at the schools receive training in integrating the router's content into their daily teaching.
- November, 2022: CoEd's training staff deliver initial, two-day training sessions (21 hours at each level of instruction (K-3, 4-6) in each regional cluster) to the teachers participating in the Spark Reading Program. Initial five-hour textbook teacher training seminars are also conducted.
- January, 2023: Rotarians and CoEd purchase textbooks in Guatemala and arrange delivery to the benefiting schools. Schools participating in the Spark Reading Program receive training materials (picture books, markers, construction paper, etc.) CoEd staff conduct any further initial Spark training sessions that were not conducted in November. Classes begin.
- January-November, 2023: Rise trainers guide students through the youth development curriculum, while also monitoring student grades, providing social support, and doing individualized follow-up with students at risk of dropping out.
- February, 2023: Rotarians from Yorba Linda Sunrise and other international clubs travel to Guatemala to assist Guatemala de la Asunción Rotarians and CoEd staff in delivering materials to the schools and inaugurating the projects.
- March-April, 2023: CoEd's training staff deliver additional five-hour seminars to Textbook Program teachers, as well as additional, one-day training sessions to the teachers participating in the Spark Reading Program.
- March-November, 2023: CoEd staff monitor and fine-tune Spark teachers' performance in the classroom, evaluating student reading performance and teachers' success at using the early literacy methodology they've learned, with oversight from Rotary volunteers.
- June 2023: Textbook and computer center teachers receive additional training.
- September-November, 2023: Students in the Rise Youth Development Program complete field trips and service projects.
- November, 2023: Guatemalan Rotarians in the GLP family participate in graduation ceremonies for Spark teachers and Rise students.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guatemala Literacy Project's interventions have proven to be more valuable than ever in helping teachers as they struggle to reach their students with education during stay-at-home orders. Books and other materials are still being delivered to teachers, while following guidelines for social distancing. CoEd's training staff have remained in constant virtual contact with teachers in the Spark, Textbook, and Computer Programs, providing worksheets, guides, and videos and helping teachers come up with creative ways to get these materials to their students, ranging from conducting virtual classes using Google Meet to distributing printed worksheets to students' homes. When in-person schooling resumes, this level of follow-up will continue to be critical to ensuring that students whose education was impacted by the pandemic do not get left behind. CoEd's trainers are developing strategies to condense course content when in-person learning resumes, to ensure that students catch up on material that was inadequately covered during the pandemic. Students in the Rise Youth Development Program have also benefited from increased virtual contact and support from CoEd's trainers to guide them in overcoming the unique challenges presented by the pandemic, ensuring that they can stay in school and continue completing the program's youth development curriculum virtually.
As the project kicks off in the coming months, the Rotary Clubs of Guatemala de la Asunción and Yorba Linda Sunrise, CA, will lead the charge in bringing together 170 Rotary Clubs and 25 Rotary Districts from around the world in support of literacy in Guatemala. The International Sponsor Club, RC Yorba Linda Sunrise, will spearhead fundraising efforts and serve as the custodian of the Global Grant funds. RC Guatemala de la Asunción, as the host club in Guatemala, has a more direct role in providing oversight of partner NGO Cooperative for Education (CoEd) in project planning, spending, accounting, and reporting. Representatives of both clubs will travel to schools benefiting from the projects to observe demonstrations of the program's methodology, among other activities.
We invite Rotarians to travel to Guatemala on any of our Project Tours, conducted every February and July by partner NGO Cooperative for Education. Although the tours are currently suspended due to COVID-19, we expect to be able to begin offering tours again by February 2022. The tours provide the opportunity to visit the GLP's four projects and take part in activities with the students whose lives are being transformed through your support, all while experiencing Guatemala's rich culture and beautiful scenery. In addition, you will have the chance to spend time with students, teachers, and community members at GLP schools; and represent your club and district (including the opportunity to speak, if desired) at the official inaugurations of the programs at the schools visited. For more information and upcoming tour dates, please visit https://www.guatemalaliteracy.org/get-involved/volunteer/.