[Wayne Brown, Friends of FORMA President, has been visiting Friends of FORMA partners, reviewing projects and making plans in and around Solola, Guatemala since mid-May. He sent this report near the end of June.]
Recently, I have had the chance to visit with several of the scholarship students; they are well-mannered, ambitious students that most people would be glad to associate with, and I am really enjoying their company.
On a recent Friday excursion, I visited the private school, Universidad de Valle de Guatemala (UVG), in Solola where a handful of the scholarship students attend their classes. The school accommodates students from 7th grade thru 9th in basico (junior high), 10th thru 12th in diversificado (high school) and also offers university classes in 2 year and 4 year programs. They have 915 students in all grades. Entry into the school is by competitive criteria. Students need an 80% in each and every class in their last year of primaria (elementary &middle school). Then they need to pass an entrance exam to be eligible. They must continue to maintain averages between 80-85% through their junior and high school years to remain in this school
What makes this school unique among other things is the fact that the UVG instructors are all working in their area of expertise or training. Other secondary schools in this vicinity do not have specially trained teachers for each subject; instead, they just use whoever is handy. The UVG school has special rooms for science labs, auto shop, cooking class, computer lab (with lots of new computers), library, and much more – things we take for granted but which no other school in this part of Guatemala has.
If my children were here, I would send them to this school if I could afford it. It is certainly a distinction when a student from a poor rural background gains entrance to this school. Often, the tuition is essentially out of the question for these young people. Outside financial support is needed for our scholarship students to take advantage of this opportunity when they work hard and are offered a chance to advance.