Community-based education in San Juan la Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala
Indigenous education in Guatemala is currently undergoing a massive overhaul in the depth and breadth of its reach in Maya areas. Although much can be said about the re-evaluation and incorporation of indigenous culture, language and worldview into the schools' curricula, it is still failing to reach the country's adult population. As a result of this oversight, indigenous adults in rural Guatemala still lack the resources that they need to achieve viable, sustainable education.
The objective of this study is to determine the influence that a group of Mayan cooperatives are having on adult education, development and employment training in San Juan la Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala.
The study was carried out in Guatemala over the summers of 2007 and 2008. Research was performed by analyzing primary and secondary data, including performing semi-structured interviews with seventy-four (74) cooperative members from seven (7) selected San Juan cooperatives.
The findings show that the cooperatives are providing their members with more access to education and job skills training which then has a positive trickle-down effect on their children's education. Survey findings show that members and their children have obtained more education and job skills since joining the cooperatives, but membership has not increased higher or formal educational opportunities. On the subject of linguistic and cultural preservation, the survey results demonstrate that members do feel that their affiliation with the cooperatives has increased their opportunity and desire to speak their Mayan language and preserve their indigenous culture, but has not offered them the chance to become literate in their native language.
Primary and secondary document analysis and field research show that the cooperatives' success is determined by a wide range of factors dating back to the Tz'utujil Maya's historical tendency to favor personal survival and cultural preservation over larger, institutional designs toward assimilation and integration.
This study fills an important gap in Guatemalan community education literature by providing information about one indigenous community's effort at sustainability, cultural preservation and self-determination. The significant result of this study is that it can be used as a handbook to help other communities create their own community-based education system.
Latin American Studies
0326: Cultural anthropology
0550: Latin American Studies