New school year. New scholarship students.

THE ODIM SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The 2019 school year has begun in Guatemala and so has our scholarship program. This year we welcomed 6 new dedicated and hopeful students to the program.

It is Monday morning on the 7th of January, and new and existing students and their parents are gathered for the opening ceremony at our clinic in San Pablo. Today, the students are introduced to each other and will sign their contracts. Some are quiet and serious and others giggling, but all of them listen carefully while the parents and the older students give advice, and ODIM staff explain about the program.

On the first row sits Jessica – a smiling, kind and determined 12-year old girl  from San Pablo La Laguna.

Jessica just started middle school and is brand new to our scholarship program. Her favorite subject is math because she thinks it is a very useful subject and she learns a lot. Her big dream is to one day become a lawyer so she is determined to continue her studies at high school when she graduates from middle school and to eventually study at  university.

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My dream is to one day become a successful lawyer so that I can help people with their problems. I would like to defend those who have problems in my community.

Jessica lives with her mom, her little brother and little sister. Her other brother is married so he does not live at home anymore. Her mom makes and sells tortillas in San Juan, and Jessica helps out at home cleaning and washing plates.

Jessica is a clever girl who loves to study and she works hard to get good grades in school. Until now she has been studying at the public school in San Pablo, but the cost of a uniform and materials mean her family decided that she wouldn’t carry on this year if they didn’t find a scholarship. She is understandably very excited that she is getting the opportunity to continue to learn.

I am happy to be part of the program because I like to study and because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to continue my studies since it is very expensive here.

Jessica is looking forward to get started and learn more about what our scholarship program has to offer.

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Our scholarship program targets children from San Pablo Laguna, where 80% of children drop out before sixth grade. Our students are selected based on financial need and academic ambition, and receive a scholarship to cover the costs of their education. However, children are often times not given the guidance or time needed in the home and in the schools in order to truly excel. Therefore, ODIM staffs 3 teachers to provide group tutoring and enrichment classes to each of the 15 children involved.

The scholarship program couldn’t be more relevant in Guatemala, and especially in the rural areas where we work. The quality of education here ranks the lowest in Central America and Guatemala has the second highest illiteracy rate in Latin America after Haiti.

Official statistics show that 86 per cent of children enroll in school. Unfortunately, in many poor communities, school fees for tuition, textbooks, uniforms and supplies easily consume a substantial percentage of a poor family’s income. As a result the majority end schooling after 6th grade, as there is no public funding after this point. Many also leave or never go to school once they start helping with their family work; typically around age 9. Of the 2 million children in Guatemala that do not attend school, the majority are indigenous girls living in rural areas. In fact, indigenous girls attend school, on average, for only three years.

If you would like to give one of our scholarship students a head start in life, sign up as a sponsor here. It costs $80 a month to cover the cost of one student. For more information reach out to Katja at communications.manager@odimguatemala.org.