How reading to their parents is helping these girls stay in school

by | May 31, 2017

At the Cooperative Middle School of San Pedro Petz, Guatemala, a group of eighth grade girls and their mothers participate in their first workshop of the year. The workshop teaches students and their parents about the Family Reading Time program, where the girls bring books home and read to their families. Instructors have the girls draw a story on paper that shows the importance of books and the wonders that can be discovered through reading, which they then proudly display for their moms.

The Family Reading Time program is part of a larger initiative by our partner ADIMTU to empower young girls in Guatemala through education. The goal is to not only improve the reading levels and overall academic performance of these girls, but to create better communication between them and their parents and help their parents see the importance of their daughters’ education–all of which will help keep the girls in school.

In Guatemala, spending on education is low, and girls’ school attendance is slim at 47% by the middle school level, and 25% at the high school level. In the San Pedro Sacatepéquez area alone, less than 25% of the total population of middle school age girls actually enroll and finish middle school. High drop out rates ultimately prevent women from joining the labor force–and in Guatemala, this number is less than half.

The girls that the Family Reading Time program works with often drop out due to falling behind in their studies, or their parents see no reason to invest in school when their labor is needed at home. The girls also sometimes drop out when they marry prematurely or become pregnant.

What we know is that educating girls is vital to human development and improving quality of life across the globe. It has been shown that every year of secondary school increases a girl’s future earning power by 20 percent. Secondary school also helps prevent child exploitation, early marriage and pregnancy. Girls are also more likely to reinvest in their families and communities, boosting economies and increasing opportunities for everyone.

Our partner ADIMTU empowers girls to become leaders in their communities and fight for equal access to education. Studies have shown that involving parents in the education process can help students improve academically. ADIMTU makes a point to involve families and instill an environment of support and empowerment for the girls at home.

Through the Family Reading Time program and their Little Sisters peer mentoring program, Adimtu has seen a 95% school retention rate. Both of these programs reach six hundred girls and, through the power of reading, build trust between the girls and their families.

Leticia Margarita Miranda, an alumni of the Family Reading Time program from El Cedro, says it has been of great benefit to her and her community…

“The books that we were able to borrow helped me because from them I took examples and applied them to my life. My family enjoyed listening to the readings and this way we had time to share. What I experienced has helped me have more trust with my mother, I know about her life and what she wishes for me. And that gives me strength to achieve my goals, returning to school, no matter my age to continue with my education.”

Want to help empower girls in Guatemala? Learn how you can support this project.


Melissa Pack is the Communications Director at One Day’s Wages. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and Papillon. 

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