We currently support 20 students with scholarships to attend the Escuela de Comercio (commerce school). Students can apply for a scholarship with us if they wish to attend this school. High school lasts – depending on the study subject – two years (10th and 11th grade) or three years (10th to 12th grade) and ends with a high school certificate. In Guatemala, this high school certificate, unlike in the German education system is the first professional qualification degree. It is therefore very important as it enables an entry level for a qualified job position.
High schools are, however, mostly private schools. In addition, at this level the cost of school supplies rises considerably. For large families with an income of less than 200 euros per month, the costs associated with getting an education are not affordable. As a result, only about a third of all youth goes to school after the 9th grade on.
In our experience, 30 euros a month is sufficient to fund students attending a public high school. With our scholarship program, we cover the cost of school supplies, transportation and school uniform.
The local management of the scholarship program has been under the responsibility of Ms. Nurya Gonzales since the beginning of 2014. Nurya, born in 1971, is a social worker with a focus on community development. In her professional life she has worked for 10 years as a lecturer at the Mariano Gálvez University and has also worked for various national and international development organizations. After Nurya coordinated the scholarship program on a voluntary basis for the first year, we decided together with her to pay her an allowance so that she can dedicate more time to the scholarships programme. This allows us to offer the scholarship holders workshops on various topics.
We founded the non-profit association becamino e.V. when we completed our community service in 2007 and in the following years, several further active members have joined our cause. With becamino, we aim to enable socially disadvantaged young people to have access to education. In the past years, we have funded existing local initiatives and carried out programs of our own. Our activities focus on the region of Alta Verapaz because we are familiar with the local circumstances and because our Guatemalan members live there. In Germany, our members work on a purely voluntary basis. The social workers on site are of course provided with an allowance to be able to perform their tasks professionally.
Since the founding of becamino in 2007, we have financially supported two existing local education initiatives in Cobán. We supported the Comunidad Esperanza initiative with funding for the construction of the school building and for a limited period of time also partly funded teachers’ salaries.For the initiative Pastoral de la niñez,we have also taken over part of the personnel costs for several years. In parallel, we set up a scholarship program for socially disadvantaged youth.