Junkabal School in Guatemala City has around 450 students currently enrolled and offers pre-school, primary and secondary education in the neighbourhood surrounding Guatemala's largest municipal rubbish dump. The school gives hope and opportunity to children from some of the most marginalised and vulnerable families in the city.
At Junkabal every student receives a curriculum of language and communication, maths, science, physical education, music, art, computing, technology, religious education, social education and citizenship. In addition, a whole range of extra-curricular activities are offered to students too after school and during the holidays, including art, handicrafts and cooking. Each student gets one-to-one support with their studies and personal development to prepare them for success in education and the future. The school also works closely with parents, especially mothers, to provide guidance and support in ensuring students receive the best possible education and opportunities.
Junkabal, with its extra-curricular activities, community engagement and one-to-one support is able to offer a quality of education that is otherwise not available to vulnerable children. State schools are over-crowded, under-funded and under-resourced. In addition, the quality of basic teacher training is low, and as a result student attainment suffers. Often the teachers are de-motivated and receive a low wage. In fact, many of them resort to working additional jobs in order to earn enough to support themselves and their own families.
The local economy is poor and there are few job opportunities. Many families living in the area earn less than $1 a day on average and it is common that parents would not have enough money all year round to send their children to school – not least to buy uniforms, books, pencils and other items that they need. Lack of skills and job opportunities mean that parents are reliant on seasonal and temporary work, working in jobs with no career progression and often many will resort to sifting through the rubbish dump looking for items to sell in order to make money.
To be able to attend school students are reliant on their parents having a job and a steady income. In order to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn, and be free and safe from child labour and exploitation Junkabal offers subsidised fees and scholarships to limit the financial barrier to education. In addition, Junkabal also works closely with parents, especially mothers, to offer vocational training courses to help them secure better paid jobs and/or start their own businesses.
“My dream is to be able to help my family. Since my dad stopped working our lives are more difficulty. If I study hard I hope I can be a doctor so that I can help sick people”
Evelyn’s dad has struggled to find work since he injured himself sorting through rubbish. Her mother has a job in a factory. Their income was already low but has now fallen and they were struggling to survive. Evelyn applied to Junkabal and was overjoyed to get a place. She still has to work at weekends but is a step closer to her dreams.
Junkabal is renowned for its excellence with high-quality teaching staff. Small class sizes and well equipped classrooms give children the best possible learning environment. However, this of course comes at a cost, and whilst fees are subsidised a financial barrier still exists and Junkabal cannot support as many students as it would like to.
For just £60 a year (less than 17p per day!) you can support a family send their child to school to receive an excellent quality education that will equip them for life, and give them confidence, knowledge and skills to strive for a better future. Donations made will go towards subsidy of school fees for the most vulnerable children and towards uniform and equipment costs for low-income families.
The Wonder Foundation and Junkabal School are delighted to have the support of Oliver House School in bringing hope and opportunity to the children of Guatemala City.