Posts Tagged ‘indigenous people’

“Not in our wildest imagination!–full education for our children?”

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These three first graders were obviously enjoying their studies enough to stay in from recess to continue their learning.  Reaching back a few years to a time before the village was settled in 1970, the community’s future founding generation could not have imagined such a picture of excited happiness about learning on the part of their children.  To test that idea I asked one of the founders, “imagine when you were working in the plantation fields as indentured servants/slaves a prophet appeared like a ghost of the future to tell you that one day all of your children would be educated through the middle school level and a very substantial number would graduate from high school, with a significant group continuing on to university studies.  What would you have thought?”  He said without hesitation, “We would have had no idea what to think.  It was beyond our wildest imagination!”  What makes this account so significant is that right up into the 1960’s the founders of Santa María Tzejá were land-poor or landless compesinos–peasant farmers–who were nearly all illiterate.  Many had never set foot in a school and in their childhoods had hardly known what education was.  The men were trapped by their own families’ survival needs in a kind of slavery to the country’s owners of massive cane, cotton and coffee plantations during the harvest season.  Further, as indigenous people they were a despised population, not capable or worthy of any education.  They were thought fit only for hard manual labor and were appropriate subjects for terrible abuse.  Yet, within a relatively short span of years they would experience what would previously been imagined by them as an educational miracle for their children.  This is a remarkable story described in the book.

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Seeds of Freedom: Liberating Education in Guatemala–third weekly post on my new book

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