2020 was undoubtedly a year of challenges and growth for many, not only did we have to adapt to the “new normal” but we also had to act in situations that in one way or another resulted in doubts, sadness, and uncertainty for the future. In the same way, we also had experiences that resulted in happiness and that taught us to be better people as well as to appreciate every moment that has been given to us.
My best memories go back to the smiles that many of you created in our youth mentors’ faces and lives. Without a doubt, you are in their hearts and I hope they are in yours.
For this week’s blog, I want to share with you the impressive results that have been obtained until now in the Guate Groundswell Program.
I want to start by talking about “The Learning Circles”. Remember, Mayan youth have been empowered as mentors supporting grade 4-6 students by leading local “learning circles” that support academic and personal development. To date we have engaged 77 mentors (46F / 31M) and 228 mentees (110F / 118 M).
These sessions have been a success not only among students but also among the community members. Pedro López (mentee’s father) Ojo de Agua said: “The mentors come to the house to teach the young children, they share with them. They have already lost their fear of participating. When they arrive at my house they ask me for permission to work with my daughter. They draw, sing, and they are very happy. I hadn’t seen that in the community before”.
Efren Mus Cal, the Director of the Telesecundaria School in LA said: “The program has significantly helped Telesecundaria students to reinforce their knowledge. It has helped them be more responsible. In addition, they become a motivation for the rest of the students. Now young people work through technology, it is something that teachers value very much.”
11-year-old mentee Marvin Estuardo Cal Chu, said, “(The learning circles were) very good since they taught me many things that I did not know or that I could not do. For example, now I understand mathematics better and I believe I’m ready for Telesecundaria”.
Vidalia Pop a parent in Las Arrugas shared: “My daughter has changed a lot now she is more responsible, I don’t know what happened to her but I love seeing my daughter more activated and more participatory. I am very proud to see my daughter progress more and more.”
To verify these impacts among the communities, baseline and midline interviews and surveys were conducted. The data showed a significant increase in the commitment among mentors through comparison of baseline to midline KAP survey responses. 89% of all female mentors increased their KAP scores in this category, along with 79% of all male mentors. Qualitative evidence suggests this may be due to support with future goal setting, expressions of encouragement for youth to continue with their education, and opportunities to explore new pathways. Additionally, the provision of modest scholarships ($45 CAD/month) for mentors has enabled their financial capacity to be able to consider further education.
We are also seeing promising signs of developing self-efficacy among mentors, with 43% of female mentors increasing their KAP scores over baseline, along with 41% of male mentors.
It is worth noting that one of the tools needed in order to make this initiative possible was the acquisition and usage of tablets for each mentor, these tablets have a program called Rumie. We have collected and deployed a +4 Gigabyte content library through Rumie, customized to each community’s learning circle activities. This has included the curation of over +119 educational videos from YouTube and other sources, as well as the creation of original content.
Miguel Us Castro (Mentor, Ojo de Agua) said “The use of the tablet is very simple and more entertaining… I like math videos. I would like the tablet to bring some constructive movies, some reading, culture, or even dynamic history.”
“I didn’t know much about fractions and in class, it made me sad to ask, but now with my mentor, I learned” Antonio Fermin Cojoc, 13 years old (Mentee, Las Arrugas).
“I continued learning despite the virus, I was able to strengthen myself in math through the videos and I improved in communication and language” Thirteen-year-old Francisca Cojoc Suram commented
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic led to a lockdown throughout Guatemala and there have been significant restrictions in place on group gatherings, as well as international and interregional travel. This has likely helped to accelerate the speed of adoption and strength of community support for the innovative youth-led approaches to programming. Additionally, there has also been increased public attention globally and within Canada about the inequities faced by students without internet access and strong educational supports in their own homes.
For instance, the student volunteers from our University of Windsor Students Offering Support (SOS) chapter ran their first virtual run/walk/bike 5km fundraiser to help support Guatemalan youth leaders impacted by Covid19.
They had almost 200 participants and reached the fundraising goal and a bit more for a total of $10,786.00. This money has been used to provide digital learning tools and school supplies to three Mayan communities in Guatemala.
In terms of Gender Equality (one of the cores of the Guate Groundswell initiative), data collected through the midline surveys and interviews show an improvement compared to baseline data.
In October 2020, we provided a three-part training to teachers and community leaders from each of the three communities. This proved to be effective as teacher KAP scores increased from an average of 85% at baseline to 93%. parents’ average KAP scores on gender equality increased between baseline to midline from 58% to 73%. The increase was most noticeable among mothers whose scores increased from 59% to 78%. Fathers’ KAP Scores increased a more modest amount, rising from 56% to 62% demonstrating further efforts are needed to engage male community leaders. Already 60% of mentors have demonstrated improvements in KAP scores between baseline and midline related to gender equality, bringing the average KAP score for female mentors to 91%, and 83% for males.
Additionally, in Jan 2021 mentors and mentees will start having training on Gender Equality with the Girl Rising customized tools and curricula to build confidence and agency in girls and to change attitudes and social norms so that entire communities stand up for girls and against gender discrimination.
As you can see, the results are tremendous and we continue working to make this program available for all three communities. Las Arrugas, San Felipe Chenla and, Ojo de Agua. Be part of this incredible and unforgettable experience in which you have the opportunity to create a more sustainable world for our and future generations by supporting the 17 sustainable goals of the United Nations.