What’s it like to go to School in Guatemala?

We are wrapping up our last week of Spanish language classes, but we’re also learning what it’s like for children to attend school in the small town of San Pedro.  I (Alex) has been volunteering on Thursdays and Fridays at a local public school.  There are 30 elementary schools here!  That’s a lot for a city of 16,000 people!  Three are private and the rest are public.  The schools are pretty small, they each have 100-200 kids at most.

I am teaching English to a class of eight 3rd graders.  We are reviewing numbers, colors, and body parts.  This week I hope to make some simple sentences with them.  (I have brown hair.  OR  I like yellow apples.)

Is there anything you are curious about??? What would you like to ask these kids?

The education system here is set up similarly to that of the US but, there are major hurdles in distributing the finances for instruction.  There us lots of corruption in the government.  There are also difficulties of students getting to school. Some kids who live in the countryside have to walk 2 hours one way to school…it makes you wonder why anyone would bother going to school.

Based on the UNICEF’s statistics, attendance for education:

  • Guatemala: Pre-Primary:66% Primary: 98% and Secondary: 46%
  • US: Pre-Primary:69% Primary: 96% and Secondary: 89%

Guatemala also reports the lowest literacy rates in all of Central America, especially for girls living in rural areas.  There is a great stigma for women here.  Of course there are many educated women, but many suffer under their husband’s control and believe their place, and their only place, is in the kitchen.  A very sad reality.  This makes me really think about what I want to do in the future.  I’ve gained an amazing education and I’ve had some amazing experiences understanding what children need to learn.  But what would be the best way to help the next generation of women worldwide????

Here’s a look into our Spanish Language school.  We attend Community Spanish School in San Pedro.  It’s a pretty neat place.  We chose to study in Guatemala because we figured the cost of living would be pretty cheap and there are many language schools here.  We are REALLY satisfied with our experience!

The school is very aware of the social justice issues surrounding the community.  They do cultural immersion classes 3 evenings a week, so that we can learn about traditions of the Mayan people as well as about the struggles they face.  Most of our activities involve food and trying new things!

As you can see, the school has been great.  We are also really enjoying our homestay.  It’s a pretty critical component to practicing our Spanish-a MUST DO!

We are counting the days before we get to see Lola… we figure we’re at 12 days….and we really hope the costs of retrieving her from the port will be OK…

6 Replies to “What’s it like to go to School in Guatemala?”

  1. The small classes are wonderful. Does it seem like you can get more done in less time?

    I would like to know if the kids look forward to going to school and if they have problems with bullies like many kids in US schools.

    1. Yes! The small class is pretty unusual. It feels just like my resource room (but the kids are not struggling as much as mine were)! I think the learning takes just as much time, but I feel that I have an opportunity to reach the kids on a deeper level, debunk their misconceptions when they arise.

      I don’t know how the kids truly feel about school here. I will say I’ve seen more “hands on play” between girls and girls as well as boys and girls, and it seems acceptable to the teachers. It seems like a more natural way to approach things! Definitely not micromanaging the kids! 🙂

  2. Very neat – immersion like that. Seems like an invaluable experience! How’s your Spanish now?

    1. It’s getting there. We learned a ton and are able to have basic conversation, but we need to practice more!

  3. Agatha E Cwalina says: Reply

    What did you make for the potluck??

    1. Potato salad. The mayo made it a hit 😉

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