Almost two years ago, the Point of Rental Software team ventured to Guatemala to experience Distrito de Alto Rendimiento schools for impoverished children. DAR, translated to District of High Performance, not only teaches academics but develops the whole child in areas of health, nutrition, psychology, and community. The majority of DAR’s students come from families with monthly household incomes of less than $100. Often times, several family members will live in small, one room lean-tos with dirt floors and walls made of corrugated sheet metal or even plastic covering. Over 40% of Guatemala’s population lives on an average of only $1.40 a day and the economy has steadily declined since 2003. Dar’s mission is to build a better standard of living and future for their country by caring for every area of a student’s life including their families’ well-being, and now technology.
In alignment with DAR’s mission, Point of Rental Software wanted to use our technological resources and skills to help Fundación Manuel & Concha Ralda’s schools improve the opportunity of a bright future for these children. In order to assist them, we began a multi-phase project by providing a tablet to every teacher and administrator. This came with training on how to incorporate the resource in different types of lessons from providing electronic sheet music for music classes to students identifying plants in a science project.
The next step consisted of two members of our team, Daniel Ruiz and Bobby Olsen, traveling to Guatemala to set up an efficiently working internet connection system and Wi-Fi along with repairing donated desktop computers. This phase of the project assisted the teachers and classroom setting greatly. DAR Social Science teacher, Dafne Cordon Enriquez, stated
“The tablets are very important tools that facilitate the teaching-learning process. They are used to help students learn to conduct research, copy sketches, and compare results. In addition we (now) have the internet resource which helps us get the information faster.” When asked about how the students react to them she says, “Students are more interested in learning. They get so excited when you use it.”
As our team at Point of Rental begins the final phase, we will expand the computer lab which will allow an entire class to learn about technology together with each student at an individual device. In addition to the computer lab expansion, more tablets will be provided in each classroom for students to utilize in a group manner.
It’s vital to their community to inspire these young children and give them the chance to become leaders and innovators. Because of the work DAR schools have done in Guatemala, their students have a broader view of the future for themselves, their families and their entire nation. We are honored to assist in a component education to this future well-rounded generation in an area that we devote ourselves to everyday, technology.
Vikashkumar Jhurree, International Education Journal writer, says that,
“Nations have recognized not only the positive effects of technology in education, but also the pivotal roles that it plays in securing jobs in the competitive job market of the 21st century. Prospective job applicants increasingly need to be computer-literate in order to qualify for job positions (Jhurree).”
Possibly this start in a technological direction for DAR will give these kids a real fighting chance.
For more information about Fundación Manuel & Concha Ralda or Distrito de Alto Rendimiento schools visit their website at www.dar.org.gt/
(Jhurree, Vikashkumar. “Technology Integration in Education in Developing Countries: Guidelines to Policy Makers.” International Education Journal: 467-83. Web.)