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Providing indigenous girls with access to quality education

In partnership with Oxfam IBIS, we are working with the intention of breaking down barriers to give indigenous girls in the Rabinal region of Guatemala access to quality education in alignment with SDG4.

  • Where
    Rabinal, Guatemala
  • Focus area
  • Duration
    2019 - 2024
  • Economy
    Hempel Foundation: DKK 9 million
Prime partner: Oxfam IBIS

The challenge

Guatemala is among the countries in Latin America with the most inequality and where it is a challenge for children to get education. The education system is failing as a driver for social mobility due to lack of quality. Especially for native Indian girls the quality if education is low. As a result, many children do not learn the basics, leaves school prematurely and thus are unable to advance within the education system. The average number of school years for girls in Guatemala is 4 to 5 years; in areas with predominately Native American populations, the average is 2.6 years.

In addition to a massive lack of culturally-adapted educational content, Native American girls and young women also face widespread gender discrimination and violence. These forms of oppression are rooted in cultural norms and a patriarchal system and often lead to early pregnancies and fewer opportunities in women’s lives. In the Rabinal region, where the project is to take place, 32% of the population can neither read or write. 60% of them are women, which reduces their opportunities for a better life. Furthermore it is also seen in the Rabinal region that children drop out of school to take paid work. Some work with their parents in agriculture and especially girls perform household chores, while others migrate to Guatemala city.

Our approach

The approach will be based on a thesis that intercultural and gender-oriented education will have an impact on the extent of school-related gender-based violence and early pregnancies. By reaching out to both girls and boys at an early age when they have not yea adopted a specific view on gender roles, it will be possible to raise their awareness of gender-based violence and thus give girls more opportunities to act.

Children must be taught interculturally and in their mother tongue about equal rights, gender norms and roles, and about the right to their own bodies. This is expected to result in more participation in and benefit from the teaching as well as less violence and discrimination. Specifically 400 teachers will be trained in using new teaching material to increase the quality of teaching. Additionally schools must help create classrooms and environments without violence against girls. The project will produce school material in the local language, Achí, to improve learning opportunities for the indigenous children and foster a bilingual and intercultural exchange in schools. Through workshops and dialogues, parents will raise their awareness of the importance of intercultural and gender-transformative education for their children. The activities of the project will raise awareness of the negative elements of violence against girls and the importance of information on sexual and reproductive rights to reduce gender inequality.