Computer labs in Guatemala

  •  July 27, 2022
  • By: Evan MacAlpine
A teenager sits infront of a computer, his hand on the mouse. He looks at the screen.
Funding required: $157,500

This project will help: 1,200 children from six Compassion centres

Estimated completion date: January 2024

Country: Guatemala

Executive summary

In Guatemala, a national census conducted in 2018 revealed that only 17 per cent of households have access to the Internet, and just 21 per cent own a computer. As technology continues to become increasingly integral in the workplace and for education, many Compassion-assisted children in Guatemala are being left behind.

The pandemic has exacerbated this problem, with most children unable to continue their studies virtually during the suspension of in-person learning. Recognizing the potentially severe consequences of this extended education loss, in February 2021 Compassion Guatemala conducted a nationwide survey to assess the situation of each church partner in regard to Internet service and access to computers. While 62 per cent of centre directors reported having decent Internet access and the ability to communicate with beneficiaries virtually, 19 per cent reported having a very poor Internet signal in their area. Some 12 per cent reported that they only have access to the Internet at the church building, and 3 per cent said that they could not afford Internet service at all. In addition, 5 per cent of directors reported not having a computer or smartphone that was in good working condition.

The survey responses from these centre directors reflect the challenges their communities are facing. Many of the children they are serving have not been able to attend school for more than two years due to pandemic-related closures and lack of access to technology at home. Providing students with the technology they need to continue their education both during and after the pandemic has become a priority for Compassion Guatemala. Following analysis of the data revealed by the survey, six partner serving 1,200 children and youth have been selected for this intervention based on need. These six communities have poor to no access to technology, including Internet service, computers or smartphones, and there is a significant risk of children dropping out of school permanently.

This intervention will see the installation of computer labs with reliable Internet services at six Compassion centres, so vulnerable children and youth can complete their schoolwork and gain valuable technology skills. Each lab will have five working computers as well as printers and a smart screen. A qualified laboratory manager will be hired at each centre to deliver computer courses and oversee the use of the computer labs. The cost of one year of Internet access will also be covered.

Did you know?

Between 2019 and 2020, the percentage of Guatemalans who had access to broadband Internet only increased by 8 per cent, one of the lowest increases in Central America.

Summary

Background

Education is key to releasing children from poverty. But for many Compassion-assisted children in Guatemala, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought their schooling to a complete halt. Most families can’t afford a computer or smart device, and many communities don’t even have broadband Internet service yet. Without access to technology, children have not been able to attend school virtually during school closures. Unfortunately, the longer they are out of school, the less likely they are to return. Out of concern, Compassion Guatemala has conducted a survey of its church partners in relation to technology access. While many churches already have computers and Internet service and can support students adequately during this time, some churches continue to struggle. Six of our church partners have expressed a pressing need for Internet service and computers. Their communities have little to no access to technology, and children are falling behind. Centre directors and staff are concerned that without intervention, many of these students may never return to their studies. With little education and no job skills, these students would end up finding low-paying jobs or falling into delinquency, continuing the cycle of poverty.

The need

Many Compassion-assisted children in Guatemala are at high risk of dropping out of school. During the suspension of in-person learning due to the pandemic, children without access to technology at home have been unable to continue their classes virtually. In 2018, a national census revealed that only 17 per cent of households have Internet access, and this number has only improved marginally since 2019. Our partners want to ensure that children can continue their education both during and after the pandemic, but they can’t do this alone.

You can help six Compassion church partners in Guatemala support children’s ongoing education through new computer labs and Internet access. Each lab will include five computers, two printers, desks and chairs, software and other accessories and a smart screen that can be used by a teacher during group lessons. Your gift will also cover the cost of Internet service for each church for one full year and enable each church to hire a lab manager who will train students and staff in the use of the equipment, supervise the labs and teach computer courses.

What your gift will do

Your gift will help 1,200 children from six Compassion centres in Guatemala continue their education during and after the pandemic by providing churches with access to technology, including:

  • 6 HP ProBook laptop computers (one per church)
  • 24 desktop HP All-in-One computers (six per church)
  • 12 Epson printers (two per church)
    • 12 months’ supply of paper and ink
  • Part-time salary for laboratory manager for each church for 12 months
  • Installation and maintenance technician for each computer lab, including technician’s travel expenses
  • Internet service for 12 months for each church
  • Software licenses, including anti-virus software and Microsoft Office
  • Accessories for each computer (headphones, computer mouse, DVD player, tables for printers)
  • Desks and chairs
  • Padlocks for security
  • One smart TV for each lab
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Logistics

  • Local contribution: US$17,972.53
  • Handling of funds: Compassion Guatemala will distribute funds and ensure that this intervention remains within budget.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: Churches will provide their own spaces for the computer labs and will be responsible for cleaning, maintenance and security. During the first year of implementation, students can use the labs free of cost. Local partnership facilitators will work closely with each church to ensure the long-term sustainability of this initiative.