A successful speaking tour

December 6, 2012 at 1:36 am Leave a comment

For Canadians, basic education lasts for at least 11 years and is available to almost the entire population. This fact is so normal that if you asked some young students, they might tell you that they’d prefer it if school was optional. Two weeks ago a special guest speaker from Guatemala reminded us that in other parts of the world, the opportunity to get an education is not guaranteed for all children.

Jorge Chojolán is an internationally recognized educator and speaker who visited Montreal as part of a larger tour of Canada and the United States. He shared the story of how he received an education and the process of creating a school in the primarily indigenous city Xela (pronounced SHAY-la).

Picture of Jorge Cholojan

Jorge Chojolán giving a speech to Montreal area librarians

He began by introducing Guatemala as a land of contrasts. The Country has produced a noble prize winner for literature, Migel Angel Austurias, but also has the lowest literacy rate in Latin America. It is blessed with good soil and abundant natural resources, but 54% of the population lives in poverty. Almost half of the population has indigenous ancestry, but parents refuse to teach their children native languages because an indigenous language accent is a cause for discrimination.

Amidst this background of societal contrasts, Jorge is working to promote education and tolerance through his non-profit school. The Austurias Academy has a unique funding model: it relies on a combination of donations and grants to subsidize student tuition. This model allows the school to provide an education which is of higher quality education than that offered in the overcrowded public schools, but which is far more affordable than the private schools in the country.

Librarians Without Borders is proud to be part of this remarkable educational experience.

A rapt audience listens to Jorge's speech.

A rapt audience listens to Jorge’s speech.

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Libraries and Education Speaking Tour: November 2012

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Librarians Without Borders is a non-profit organization that strives to improve access to information resources regardless of language, geography, or religion, by forming partnerships with community organizations in developing regions.

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Librarians Without Borders is not in any way affiliated with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders is a registered trade-mark of Bureau International de Médecins Sans Frontière

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