During 2012, all our children that we gave secondary education scholarships to passed the year and will advance to the next level in 2013. We will hand out the next round of scholarships in January 2013 for the whole year, which will cover many items they need to complete the whole year.
Although more exciting than that, we are currently in the midst of paperwork to legalise our very own secondary school, whereby we will pay for our own teachers to give the secondary classes to the children, without them having to go to another school. By paying for teachers, we can reachout to even more children desperate to further their education and thanks to donors, past present and future, we can raise the funds necessary to cover teacher salaries in years to come.
Many thanks for all your support, please get involved in our Christmas Appeal, and bring on 2013, a great year for everyone
We are now drawing to the end of this year's offical cycle, with the children finishing off their final exams. The preliminary results look incredible with many marks in the high 80´s and 90´s which is amazing! This year has been a landmark year, as we move from volunteer-led teaching, to the hiring of local teachers, most of whom came through the ranks in our school over the past ten years, which just shows how well the education program is progressing, and becoming sustainable which is our overall aim! With the school now fully official in Itzapa and plans to make Santa María official in 2014, the future is looking very bright for the children in Guatemala.
Thank you once again to all of your generous donations which help us to make these fantastic differences, you can clearly see what a difference they are making to the lives of these children when they are young, providing them with the education & ability to come back to teach in the schools when they have grown up!
This month in our San Andres Itzapa Community we took a break from school for the day and headed off into the countryside for a day of tree planting. GVI’s in-field partners, The Phoenix Projects, run a reforestation program in conjunction with a Stove Construction Project where GVI volunteers build an energy-efficient stove for a family. Without stoves the majority of families in the communities cook on open fires, burning large amounts of wood and clearing substantial areas of trees on a regular basis. Once a month all the children, staff and volunteers head off armed with tools and armfuls of tree seedlings for tree planting day; making an effort to counteract the negative impact deforestation has on the local environment.
Living conditions for the children who attend our school are basic; often a communal living space with an open fire for cooking. Not only is this dangerous with children living and playing near the open fire but it fills the living area with toxic smoke. The stoves that a GVI volunteer can build in just a week are fitted with a chimney to rid the indoor living area of smoke which in turn increases life expectancy as well as cutting fuel consumption by a considerable amount.
About 75% of the Guatemalan population burn wood as fuel for cooking and heating which contributes to more than 1620 Km of deforestation in Guatemala each year (AIR, Alliance for International reforestation). The knock on effect of this leads to problems with water supply, soil erosion, reduction in air quality and also depletes the natural supply of nutrients in the soil which, as farmers, most of our families rely on for source of food and income.
As well as reforestation Phoenix Project’s goal is to build a stove for each family of the 600 children that attend the two schools in Guatemala.
In addition to planting a considerable amount of trees on the day it was a great opportunity for our volunteers to see more of the local community and town where they work. Most of our pupils are already expert tree planters with knowledge of the local tree species so were able to teach the staff and volunteers a thing or two!
In the United Nations Development Programme’s 2011 Human Development Index (a worldwide measure of life expectancy, education and living standards) Guatemala ranked 131 out of 187. The poverty is mainly concentrated among the indigenous communities who live in rural areas such as San Andreas Itzapa and Santa Maria where The Phoenix Projects are based.
Our first year of our schools legality in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala, has been an unbridled success thus far, with us being able to employ previous students who we have put through teacher-training college.
Costing roughly $200 a month per teacher and at present we have 10 employed. We are not only giving the children an excellent education from these young enthusiastic teachers, we are also helping the local economy through increased employment, whilst showing the younger children what opportunities there are and how achievable they are.
Thanks to continued donations, we can keep this dream alive for the community.
After years of legalities, form filling and jumping through hoops, we received the news that the “Pájaro de Fuego” school was finally granted official status. This new status has some big consequences; the students will be able to receive official qualifications in the school, rather than having to use valuable funds to send them to national school to receive their certificates. Phoenix, with some funds raised through the GVI Charitable Trust, now pays for 8 local teacher salaries, most of whom have come through the ranks on our projects over the years and all of whom we have helped through teaching college.
Towards the end of March 2012, all 240 children took their first official exams and with most of the grades coming through, we are seeing an incredible high average of marks from sciences, maths, Spanish, English and written Kaqchikel, which before, was unavailable. With the majority of children averaging over 80%, this puts them in the top 10% of Guatemalan schools. In Guatemala, only 70% of children finish Primary education (according to UNESCO data), with girls 8.4% less likely to finish that boys (SEGEPLAN). Of those children taking exams, 12.5% will fail the grade and have to retake the year, often leading to them dropping out altogether.
Thanks to the continuous presence of our volunteers we are able to run reinforcement lessons for those children who a falling behind, as well as teaching and assisting with the kinder kids, whose need for more attention is critical. It marks a watershed in history, slowly breaking the circle, whereby ex-students are employed to teach, moving one step closer to self-sustainability.
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