Objective: “To help the children progress in their lives and become useful to their families and their nation so that they do not suffer from ignorance that traps them and have a normal life without the discrimination brought on by the lack of education.”
Since 2006, one of the priorities of the partnership between the Presbyteries of WNC, Sur Occidente, and Suchitepéquez has been to improve the level of education of the Guatemalan children in the partnership. This is being accomplished by the partnership churches forming scholarship covenants to provide scholarships for needy children and youth. It is encouraged that scholarships be given according to need regardless of sex or church membership.
The people of Guatemala are hard working people who find it difficult if not impossible to earn a wage that will feed, clothe, shelter their family, and provide money to send their children to school. Although the government provides the teacher and school building it does not cover all the expenses of registration, school supplies, uniforms, shoes and transportation. Most children will not receive an education beyond the third year. This lack of education will only perpetuate the level of poverty, which is prevalent in the country.
While the government states that education is free and compulsory through the sixth grade statistics do not support the statement. Of the 30 % of children who complete the 3rd grade approximately 29% complete the 6th grade with 10% completing high school. The greater number of children who do not attend school are from rural communities especially the indigenous areas. The literacy rate for Guatemalans over the age of 15 stood at 72 percent (65 percent of females and 79 percent of males could read) of the population in 2005. This was the lowest literacy rate in Central America.
Many benefits of higher levels of education are easily visible; others may be difficult to see. Listed below are several easily noticed benefits:
- Lower levels of poverty and unemployment
- Higher levels of income
- Fewer children working as farm laborers
- Stronger friendships among partnership churches and the community
- Increased voice of the marginal in the development of their country
- Improved levels of health
- Improved relationships among various ethnic groups
While many factors are involved in whether or not a student gains a high level of education, it is the hope of this partnership that scholarships can stimulate hope and faith in the individual and their potential.
Contact Carole Ball for further information about children’s scholarship program at firstname.lastname@example.org