Guatemala

Bilingual and intercultural education project in Guatemala

Classe au Guatemala

In 2023

92,243

students benefit from quality education

3,381

teachers trained in our pedagogy

218

parents of aware schoolchildren

Bilingual education : a necessity

Guatemala has a rich ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity: while Spanish is the official language of the country, there are also 22 other Mayan languages – such as Q’eqchi’ or Kaqchikel. Although these languages are recognised by the State, the Maya population still experiences severe discrimination and the education system does not take sufficient account of the language and culture of indigenous populations.

Helping Mayan children learn better

En 2001, dans le cadre du Programme d’Éducation Bilingue et Interculturelle, Enfants du Monde a débuté son intervention dans la région d’Alta Verapaz pour améliorer la qualité de l’éducation et former le corps enseignant à l’enseignement bilingue et interculturel. Depuis, à la demande du Ministère de l’éducation guatémaltèque (MINEDUC), le programme s’est étendu à d’autres régions et zones linguistiques : notre association intervient dans les municipalités de Cobán et San Jua6n Chamelco, auprès des communautés mayas q’eqchi’, et dans la municipalité de Tecpán, auprès de la communauté linguistique kaqchikel.

 

Guatemala has a rich ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity: while Spanish is the official language of the country, there are also 22 other Mayan languages – such as Q’eqchi’ or Kaqchikel. Although these languages are recognised by the State, the Maya population still experiences severe discrimination and the education system does not take sufficient account of the language and culture of indigenous populations.

Improving the quality of education for Maya schoolchildren

Since the 1970s, the Guatemala Ministry of Education has followed a policy of bilingual and intercultural education and seeks to promote teaching in the mother tongue of schoolchildren. Despite these efforts, many Maya schoolchildren still do not have access to quality education. In order to improve the quality of education in these schools, Enfants du Monde is involved in training the teachers.

Aby Natalí Jutzuy Santelel, teacher at the EORM Agua Escondida school in Chimaltenango

The training has helped me improve my level in kaqchikel, to be more aware of the importance of passing on our traditions and our local culture, to be more open to new methods of teaching and learning, to acknowledge the importance of bilingualism and in my school to promote learning in two or three languages at once. The schoolchildren can learn everything at the same time, and sometimes the limitation lies with the teachers or the available resources.

 

Involving the community

Until 2020, parents of schoolchildren were made aware of the importance of training and of bilingual intercultural education for their children at education council meetings.

Leonor Ajtzac Sapón, Mother of two children at the EORM school in Pueblo Viejo

In the past, the children only learned to say a few words in kaqchikel, everything was in Spanish. It’s better for the children to learn in their own language, that they place more importance on their language and culture, on the customs of their village. But this has to happen at home too, families must also use the local language, so they don’t lose it.

Addressing 2 years of school closures during the COVID-19 crisis

In Central America, Guatemala was among the countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools remained closed for almost 2 years. During this time, Enfants du Monde contributed to the emergency plan Aprendo en Casa y en Clase established by the Ministry of Education to support both schoolchildren and teachers in the introduction and success of learning at home.

The Guatemala Ministry of Education in collaboration with Enfants du Monde and the Directorate General for Bilingual and Intercultural Education (DIGEBI) provided self-learning guides and radio programmes in Maya and in Spanish as well as distance training for teachers.

Watch teacher Dilma Calel’s account of the challenges of distance learning (in french) :

Helping our beneficiaries in emergency situations

In November 2020 the passage of hurricanes ETA and IOTA led to very significant floods that devastated the department of Alta Verapaz. We provided food and psychological assistance to 400 families with 1,200 children in 14 communities.

Humanitarian aid organisations are actually few and far between in this region and local governments did not have the capacity to deal with this emergency. That is why, in collaboration with CIPREVICA our NGO partner and the financial support of Swiss Solidarity, Enfants du Monde provided aid for the populations of Alta Verapaz.

 

Reyna, Pupil in Guatemala

I am learning to read and write in Spanish as well as in my mother tongue, Kaqchikel. I mostly like to read tales and learn how to write. Later on, I would like to become a doctor to heal others.

Photos of the project

Financial partners 

Local partners

Latest news

Contact our team

In Guatemala
Enfants du Monde
c/o CIPREVICA
12 calle 1-48, Zona 10, Edificio Pivaral, 6to nivel,
Ciudad de Guatemala,
Guatemala

Maria Balaguer, regional coordinator
Phone : + (+502) 42 06 49 54
Email :alat@edm.ch

In  Switzerland 

Enfants du Monde
Route de Ferney 150, CP 2100
1211 Genève 2, Suisse
Phone : +41 22 798 88 81
Email : info@edm.ch

Simone Arcila, Latine America Programme Manager

 

Enfants à l’école au Guatemala

My donation makes a difference

For example:

With 70 francs:

I offer a bilingual textbook in Spanish and Mayan to 53 students in Guatemala.

With 140 francs:

I fund 2 educational radio shows for students who can no longer go to school in Guatemala.

With 200 francs:

I finance continuing education in bilingual education to 10 teachers in Guatemala to improve the quality of their lessons.

I MAKE A DONATION