Training Teachers in Rural Guatemala

Can you imagine growing up with no electricity or running water? With parents and older siblings who do not know how to read? Needing to drop out of school as a child to work? Having teachers relatively untrained for the few years you are in school? Without adequate reading skills, children all over the world remain targets of exploitation and injustice, and the cycle of poverty continues for them and their families.

Cooperative for Education’s (CoEd) Culture of Reading Program (CORP) delivers training in effective reading instruction to rural teachers in one such community in Guatemala and provides them with resources to facilitate reading in the classroom. Better-trained teachers help their students improve their reading and writing skills so that they can achieve more in school, continue their education longer, and overcome the challenges caused by low literacy.

The program provides sustainable, ongoing support to beneficiaries. CORP delivers 60 hours of group instruction in effective reading pedagogy. Teachers also receive individual support and approximately 72 high-quality children’s books.

Support from the Better World Books LEAP Grant has helped train 65 teachers in 18 rural elementary schools, get 1,876 children reading and writing in their classrooms and put 3,708 books into circulation in rural Guatemala.

Teachers use the books to practice strategies for reading aloud, to gain children’s interest and to engage them in critical thinking. Students act out stories, bringing the text to life. They also retell them, using their own words and drawings to demonstrate their understanding. Children further develop essential literacy skills by authoring original stories on topics or themes important to their lives.

CORP’s simple and straightforward methodology rapidly builds Spanish vocabulary, strengthens reading comprehension, builds confidence and competence working with the written language, and makes the learning process more meaningful.

Studies indicate that children in the program achieve significant gains in reading comprehension scores—a 16% increase after two years in the program (compared to children at the same age before CORP was introduced). Teachers also report improvement in student interest and an increase in the number of children passing to the next grade level.

You can learn more about our LEAP initiative with CoEd here.

What do you think it would be like to grow up in the conditions mentioned above? Have you heard any inspiring stories of children breaking the cycle of poverty through education? Share your thoughts and stories with us below!

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  1. Thank you for helping these families in Guatemala! I am a proud Guatemalan and appreciate the effort and resources to help them!

  2. How do you determine what communities to work with? I would be very interested in learning more about your program, especially the teacher training aspect, seeing as I am trying to create a similar program in Peten.

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