The Guatemalan Human Rights Commission estimates only 62% of Guatemalan children complete 6th grade, and less than 11% complete a secondary education.

The Alternative Learning Center (2000-present)

In 2000, UPAVIM established the Alternative Learning Center to offer children from La Esperanza and neighboring communities a school where they study in a safe and stimulating atmosphere. The school started with 2 children and has grown to serve 150 a year. The school works to inspire the children to have a desire for learning to encourage them to continue in their education. They are also exposed to the values and personal skills needed to become an informed and active member of their community and their country. A good education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty that pervades our community.

Currently the Alternative Learning Center has classes from Kindergarten to 6th grade, attends to approximately 150 children and employs 11 teachers and a Director. A monthly fee of 175 quetzales (US$23) covers tuition costs, though uniform, books, materials, and registration costs are separate. The school is funded by fees, the sale of our handmade crafts, donations and special fundraising events. Breakfast is provided to all students and they are encouraged to practice healthy lifestyle habits daily including brushing teeth, exercise classes, as well as nutrition guidelines. In collaboration with the UPAVIM public library and librarian, each grade participates in a literature program once a week where reading, writing, research, and critical thinking skills are reinforced.

UPAVIM CAA has been integrating a Montessori style teaching approach by training teachers and implementing the philosophy in the classrooms grade by grade. In 2016 the kindergarten class began the year with Montessori practice, and now we have Montessori all the way through 3rd grade. Fourth through sixth is different and a bit more complex to train and set up with the Montessori method but we hope to eventually accomplish that too.

We know our school program enables students to enjoy learning and excel. We are very proud to have our school in our underprivileged community teach in the Montessori method. Usually only wealthy families in Guatemala can afford Montessori schools. Parents feel it is a vital community asset especially in comparison to the overcrowded underfunded classrooms of local government funded schools which are also only 1/2 day programs. If the children in our community have a good education they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty. It is very gratifying to see our graduates that can secure the tuition for secondary school, go onto university. They now have careers in areas such as social work, photography , computer programming,  accounting, teaching and nursing just to name a few.


The Alternative Learning Center’s Wish List:

Our greatest need right now is financial support. Our foundation in the United States, the UPAVIM Community Development Foundation (UCDF) has the task of raising US$50,000 a year to keep our school open.