In collaboration with Project Somos and Calgary Foundation (Canada), a high-impact Virtual Tutoring Program was established towards urgent literacy and educational support to students ages 5-13 who have been without public school for the last 2 years in Guatemala.
The Project Somos Children’s Village is a nurturing educational community for at-risk children living in poverty in Guatemala. They provide Early Childhood Education, academic support, and nutritional programming.
They were providing vital academic tutoring, emotional support, and literacy skills to help keep children in school after 2 years of public school closures due to COVID19.
As of April 2022, up to 50% of local children as old as 13 years old are not yet reading at all. None of them are reading at their grade level. Local schools are not permitted to fail students and because of this, students continue to progress each year to the next grade, despite not having basic reading skills to understand what they are being taught.
Education, especially literacy, is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in rural Guatemala. By ensuring children can read, Project Somos are helping to change their trajectory. Recent studies have shown that when even one family member has literacy skills, it can help lift the entire family out of poverty.
At Project Somos, all participants are Indigenous. At home they mainly speak the local Indigenous language of Kaqchikel. They don't have access to consistent schooling, books, libraries or the internet. Parents have little or no formal education. Many are illiterate and unable to support their children with their school work or learning.
Normally, Project Somos consistently has 4-7 long-term foreign volunteers on-site that provide one to one reading support. This essential personalized attention has been key in assisting the children to advance with their reading skills. Since March 20, 2020 they have been unable to receive any volunteers.
Therefore D.R.O.P.S., Project Somos and the Calgary Foundation came together to fund and set up the Virtual Tutoring Program. This program provided the much needed support until they can once again accept volunteers at the project.
Using tablets, virtual volunteers are tutoring the children remotely 1 on 1 to provide them with the help they need. With the funds donated to Project Somos, they could hire a professional to manage this program and to train and coordinate the volunteers to facilitate this vital literacy program.
This project have had positive impact on children and their families in the Chivarabal area in the following ways: Children who have been out of school received personalized support to help them with their reading skills. And School age children who are at risk of dropping out of school received homework support.
Literacy is the essential building block for these children to have success in all of their classes. All children are evaluated at the start of the school year and throughout the year and will be the evaluation to measure this outcome.
With solid literacy, children are guaranteed more success in the public schools.
In June, 12 volunteers were recruited. Eight are in Mexico, four in Guatemala, and all are native Spanish speakers. This is the first time Project Somos has had so many Spanish-speaking volunteers!
They have 42 children who need one-on-one tutoring and were able to start tutoring 22 of them.
On June 29, the first tutor (in Guatemala City) met her two students. She had a beautiful welcome poster with an inspirational quote and balloons behind her. She made her two students feel comfortable and welcome.
See for yourself: Facebook Live - kudos to D.R.O.P.S.
The fifth week of the Virtual Tutoring Program, and it went very well. The children enjoyed one-on-one time with their Spanish-speaking tutors and we made steady progress in reading.
Project Somos hosted a family day and was able to present its innovative online literacy program to parents. Everyone was very impressed and very grateful for this special support!