educ (38)

It is complicated in Guatemala.

The current state of the education system is substandard. Many classrooms, especially in rural Guatemala, do not have adequate teaching materials.  Additionally, with more than half the population living below the poverty line, many children – especially rural and indigenous children – are forced to drop out of school to help support their families or because they are unable to afford the cost of school fees, uniforms, books, supplies and transportation.

Of the roughly 2 million children in Guatemala that do not attend school, many are indigenous girls living in rural areas. In fact, over half of the Guatemalan population is indigenous and only 10% of poor, rural indigenous girls are enrolled in secondary school. They are among the country’s most disadvantaged group with limited schooling, early marriage, frequent childbearing, and chronic poverty.

PILAS provides effective educational support services (grades 7+) to qualifying students from any of the nine villages of Sumpango. The goal is to develop a student’s academic and problem solving skills as well as expand on each student’s natural giftedness, interests, and talents.

The optimal development of each student is the responsibility of many. We are dedicated to working cooperatively with students, families, school partners, local churches, businesses and communities.

PILAS assists each student with career path planning, practical experiences, English training and work placements.

An important component of our programs is the application of key learnings from the book written by Paul Tough: How Children Succeed; Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.  Current research says that a child’s success depends on whether we are able to help them develop a set of qualities that include persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence. Through the development of these characteristics, there is a greater probability for narrowing the achievement gap between poor kids and middle-class kids.

For children growing up in the most stressed poor income homes, providing and modeling a nurturing relationship within PILAS buffers the effects of stress and trauma. Coupled with a solid Biblical foundation and an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ, these students are better equipped to withstand the storms of life.

The ultimate goal is to graduate responsible citizens, equipped to initiate personal and social change.

Sources: World Food Programme, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Global Education Fund, USAID,


Comments from a private college teacher in Sumpango Guatemala
about the benefits and impact PILAS is having.