Books delivered to Guatemala

Four Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman will travel to Guatemala in February to join with the Cooperative for Education and Rotarians from the US and Canada to deliver books to secondary schools and open computer centres.

The Cooperative for Education is a Cincinnati-based nonprofit organisation dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala by providing textbooks and educational opportunities to under-privileged schoolchildren in 
impoverished areas.

The programmes are designed to improve traditional and technological literacy, which are the cornerstones of economic development. CoEd was founded in 1996 by brothers Joe and Jeff Berninger.

Rotarians Joey Hew, Trevor Neckles, Alan Roffey and Derek Haines will assist in the project during the trip from 4-13 February. Their travels will take them over several hundred miles of bumpy roads in 
mountainous terrain.

How it works

Candidate schools are matched with donors such as Rotary clubs, companies, churches, foundations, and individuals.

Donated funds from the above groups are used to buy textbooks in Guatemala in the vital areas of math, science, Spanish language, and social studies.

After delivering the textbooks, CoEd trains the teachers and students in methods for effective use and care of books.

This training is essential because most teachers have never taught using a book and most students have never owned a book, nor do they have books in their homes.

Finally, CoEd helps the school set up a rental programme in which it rents its books to the students for a small fee. The fees are put into a revolving fund that the school uses to buy a new set of books when the original ones wear out.

143,000 textbooks provided

Since the end of the Civil War in 1996, more than 143,000 textbooks have been provided by the programme to 155 communities in Guatemala.

Rotarian Trevor Neckles, who has made three such trips, said: “This project establishes computer centres within secondary schools, teaching the students Microsoft software basics and how to access the Internet.

Eighty percent of mid-level jobs in Guatemala require computer skills; CoEd Computer Centres provide training necessary to obtain those positions.”

CoEd identifies candidate secondary schools, typically from its pool of successful textbook project schools.

The computer centre teachers are selected, directly trained and supervised by CoEd.

Like the textbook projects, the computer centres are made possible by matching them with donors and striving for self-sufficiency through the schools’ revolving fund process.

Also, individual, corporate or other donors can directly sponsor the computer centres themselves, or individual workstations

Some 30 computer centres have been established in Guatemala, benefiting over 12,800 students together with 39 libraries.

Scholarships have been provided for over 240 secondary students.

Neckles, Haines and Roffey and their families are private donors to the computer project.

Besides supporting the programme financially, Rotary Grand Cayman has also bought $1,000 worth of sporting equipment, and the Cayman attendees are providing funds for toilets at one of the schools to be visited.