Technology for the Little Ones: Enlace Quiché Busy in Guatemalan Primary Schools
Until a few short months ago, access to educational technology was nothing more than a dream for the little boys and girls of rural communities in the Guatemalan highlands. But today, hundreds of children in the department of El Quiché are using computers to learn to read and write their first letters in their native Mayan languages.
As a part of the efforts in support of bilingual/intercultural education and educational technology, Project Enlace Quiché/USAID has installed eight (8) mini technology centers or as they are called in Spanish- CETEBITOS (Centros de Tecnología Educativa Bilingüe Intercultural para Niños) in the communities of Nebaj, Sacapulas, Ixcan, Santa Cruz del Quiché, and Joyabaj, all located in the department of El Quiché.
Partners Key to Successful Installation
Various partners contributed to the successful installation of the mini-centers such as donations of used computers by World Computer Exchange and licensing of Windows operating system and Office software by Microsoft Guatemala. In addition, Enlace Quiche/USAID prepared and installed all the equipment and is working in close collaboration with PAEBI/World Learning in the creation of multimedia software in the languages of the communities served: K'iche', Sakapulteco, and Ixil.
The mini centers are managed by the same teachers in the communities that Enlace has trained previously in the administration of the original technology centers in the high schools and in the educational use of technology. Teachers have learned how to use Windows, basic troubleshooting techniques, and how to use the educational multimedia software created by PAEBI/World Learning and Enlace Quiché.
Active Participation of the Whole Community
One notable characteristic of the technology model introduced in these primary schools has been the active participation of the whole community in the process. From the outset, parent groups have formed to equip the centers, obtain the electricity and adequate security, as well as to jointly establish the administrative and center use policies. In addition, the teachers have undergone extensive training and are bringing this knowledge to their young students in the primary schools.
In the Words of Local Teachers...
While the process of integrating the technology into the schools and classrooms has been a long and complex process, it has also been very rewarding and worthwhile for all involved. In the words of first grade teacher, Gricelda Ventura at the Chirij tz'aq School in Joyabaj,
The teachers are very motivated to learn to use the technology and see it as another tool that will help them make learning more engaging and enriching for their young students. Many times teachers want to do many things with their students but hey do not have the appropriate resources to do so. Technology, in this case, is a very interesting and relevant tool that will not only help the children in their academic learning, but in their own self development as well.Other comments from teachers and principals trained in the use of educational technology and center administration: