We were fortunate to have five staff attend a Microsoft conference in Guatemala City earlier this year. It was Microsoft’s NGO Day in Guatemala, and the conference focused on how to strengthen technological abilities among youth. The subject was especially helpful for Common Hope’s youth program leaders, Rigo and Pablo.
The great need for digital access
Digital technology is a powerful education tool for youth throughout the world, as the conference explored. Unfortunately, for many impoverished students in Guatemala, access to such technology is limited. The majority of students affiliated with Common Hope do not have a computer or Internet in their homes. Many of their schools have no computer labs, either, and when they do, often the PCs and software are outdated. And yet, digital skills are key to many professions our youth are looking to enter.
Access and skill building at our labs
At our Antigua and New Hope sites, we manage two computer labs to provide students with free access to up-to-date computers, software, Internet, and printing. We also offer individualized attention to help students learn how to use the technology effectively and to encourage them to critically analyze the information they find. Additionally, we offer trainings for students, teachers, and staff on using various software effectively. On average, 50 students use our computer labs daily for homework. Without the lab, these students would have to pay an Internet cafe for computer use, scanning, and printing and would not receive the tech support and training offered by our staff.
Inspired by the conference, Common Hope IT Director Pablo Cermeño plans to start promoting the offerings of the computer lab more with homework club students. He also wants to refer high school students studying computer science to make sure they have access to up-to-date software and support from our staff.
Thanks to the generosity of Microsoft
Microsoft was very generous with sharing expertise at the conference, and they have also been generous with sharing materials. In 2010, they donated more than $64,000 worth of software to Common Hope. Now this fall, they announced another grant of software to Common Hope, valued at more than $117,000. Many thanks to Microsoft for your generosity!