Common Hope’s Education Program provides the necessary resources for thousands of impoverished students to stay in school and be more successful students. The program also creates partnerships with local schools to support and enhance the education students receive. We help children attend school from preschool to high school graduation, and we also provide competitive scholarships for young adults to attend university.
Our Education Program has shown significant results. Not only can we point to the individual success stories of students, but a recent study by the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Public Policy has demonstrated that Common Hope significantly increases the likelihood of graduating from high school. It also found that former Common Hope students are significantly more optimistic about their future, and they have reason to be so: high school grads were found to have better employment and health compared to their peers who had not graduated. Visit our results for more information on the outcomes of our programs. Read on for a summary of our various levels of education programming.
Early Childhood Education
There is a scarcity of early childhood education in Guatemala, so first grade is often a child’s first exposure to the classroom. Repetition rates are extremely high for first grade students, who are expected by national curriculum standards to read by the end of the year—with little preparation, crowded classrooms, and inexperienced teachers. Common Hope has a preschool at both our New Hope and Antigua sites, where teachers utilize the Creative Curriculum used by U.S. Head Start programs. The preschools provide a literacy- and stimulation-rich environment that helps acclimate children to the classroom and leaves them much more prepared for first grade. We also partner with an organization called Let’s Be Ready to bring interactive preschool education to the nearby community of San Miguel.
Most of our elementary students attend area public schools, receiving school supplies and uniforms through Common Hope. In 2009, Common Hope began partnering with public schools to provide extra support and enhance the education those schools can provide. Our education promoters work in classrooms to promote reading and literacy and to model effective classroom management techniques. They also provide earlier intervention for at-risk students during after school tutoring and small group work. And, our promoters serve as substitute teachers when needed, to limit the school days missed by students. Besides our work in public schools, Common Hope also runs New Hope School, an elementary school outside of Guatemala City serving nearly 275 students that has shown extraordinary education results thus far.
Students in their first year of junior high drop out at especially high rates in Guatemala. While the success of elementary students is chiefly tied to academic support issues, success in secondary school is more closely tied to a student’s ability to cope with social issues that many low-income Guatemalan adolescents face. These include increased tuition and school supply expenses, greater pressure to start working to earn money for the family, and a lack of a sense of belonging when parents likely never studied at this level themselves. Our Education Program provides the financial support necessary for secondary students to attend school, lessening the pressure to drop out and find work. Additionally, the program strives to provide social and emotional support, offering a variety of youth group activities that will address common issues for impoverished Guatemalan adolescents and help them to develop into well-rounded adults.
Students who exhibit very strong academic skills and commitment to leadership and community service can apply for competitive scholarships to go on to university. These scholarships are distinct in Guatemala, where most scholarships are awarded solely for academic achievement. By including leadership and community service, our goal is to encourage and reward not only good students but critical thinkers and agents of change. University is not nearly as common in Guatemala, because students choose a career track at the beginning of high school and can go on to many professional careers after receiving their high school degree. Our university scholarship program is an option, however, for those excellent, committed students who want to pursue an advanced degree in subjects like medicine, engineering, or law.
Sources: UNESCO, “The State of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean,” http://www.unesco.org