Overwhelmed. Hopeful. Overjoyed. This is what you’ve told us you felt after visiting your first Textbook School on a CoEd tour. So, how do the students feel? How about their parents? Their teachers?
CoEd staff member and tour guide extraordinaire, Juan Pablo (pictured above), went behind-the scenes with school principal, Guisela (pictured below), to find out how the teachers and students feel when donors come to a textbook reinauguration. For those of you who haven’t been on tour yet, an inauguration is the celebration of a new school entering the Textbook Program, thanks to generous individuals like you. A REinauguration is when we celebrate a current school that has saved enough through the Textbook Program’s revolving fund to purchase a brand new set of textbooks on their own!
“The most important part of the reinaugurations is that students really get to know the program. They get to know where their textbooks are coming from, and they learn that people are traveling from other countries to meet them. Many students’ hearts have opened as they’ve learned something new from the textbooks. I think this afternoon has been very moving for the students.”
Guisela has been the principal of Choquí Middle School in Quetzaltenango for 14 years. Confident and compelling, it is instantly clear that Guisela wants what is best for her students. But, looking at Guisela’s tidy, and now well-stocked office, the difference between the Choquí of today and the Choquí of 14 years ago sounds like night and day. “Then, there were hardly any materials in the classrooms. Teachers had to look up teaching materials in outdated books that the school happened to have and make photocopies for the students. Students could try to find a relevant book at a nearby library, but the available books were often for the wrong grade level—they weren’t what a middle school student needed.”
It all came down to the lack of textbooks. While a few families could afford to pay 200-300 quetzales per textbook (about $25-40 per book), this was prohibitively expensive to the majority of families in the community. 79% of indigenous Guatemalans live on less than $4.00 a day. 40% live on less than $2.00 a day.
So in 2006, we welcomed Choquí into the CoEd family as they joined the Textbook Program! Suddenly, parents who couldn’t afford even one textbook could have four textbooks per child for very little money. How is this possible? Every family in the Textbook Program “rents” a set of books in core subjects like math, science, Spanish language, and social studies for a small monthly fee (about $1.50). These fees are collected into a revolving fund which is used to replace the books as they wear out. Guisela shared, “The parents have confidence in the program. They say, ‘It’s so wonderful to have four books! School is no longer just the teacher dictating at the chalkboard over and over and over.’”
But, Choquí’s story doesn’t end there! Over the years, the Choquí community has renewed their textbooks a whopping THREE TIMES through CoEd’s revolving fund. Generations of students will have access to these critical educational materials.
So, how did Guisela feel at Choquí’s most recent textbook reinauguration? As her eyes welled with tears she said, “Seeing the donors today, hearing them speak, taking photos with them—it meant a lot to me. It doesn’t seem like the donors are just giving money—I think that they truly want to make change.”
Do you want to be part of the change in Guatemala?
It’s been quite a few years since we went on the tour, but it was a very meaningful experience. I hope we can go again, but it’s even more important that new people go. This is a wonderful program and to see and touch and hear the people of Guatemala gives a greater dimension to our donations. The parents want to see their children succeed. The children want to succeed. We want them to succeed.
Programs like this are important to the future of Guatemala. This is important to the world. Thank you, CoEd.
And we’re so grateful for your support, Linda! -Elizabeth
Thank you, Linda! I hope you and Gary are doing well and it would be great to see you in Guatemala again one of these days! -Jessica