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.