Pedro Molina School library
Status: Fully funded
Funds provided: $9100
Pedro Molina School was an inspiring story long before PEG had anything to do with it. The school is located at the site of a former Guatemalan military base. After the peace accords in 1996, the base was converted into a boarding school. Most Guatemalans who go to school don’t go past the sixth grade, but Pedro Molina is for students who have completed those degrees and are now studying to be teachers.
All of the students at the school are on government sponsored scholarships which they earned through academic excellence. Most are very poor and from rural villages. The Guatemalan government’s investment in educating them promises to be a good one, as they are likely to return to their own villages and teach there, gradually raising the overall literacy of the country.
When we first visited the Pedro Molina school, the library had less than 3000 books total, many of which are in bad shape. Rigoberto Zamora, the director of Probigua in Antigua, Guatemala, had a vision that the Pedro Molina library could be the central hub of a small system of branch libraries, serving outlying communities whose small branches could have access to the whole catalog of books, as well as the students of this school.
The Guatemalan school system teaches by rote more than by encouraging critical thought and analysis, and it’s the dream of several educators that I’ve talked to there to try to pull the system more into a deeper engagement with learning as a process. Encouraging a love of reading is a big step in that process, and supporting this library is a concrete step in that direction.
PEG contributed $9100 toward this project, to be used for these purposes: - buying much needed cataloging supplies to organize the books there and new books - $3000 for new book purchases - annual salaries for a librarian and a computer technician .
In June of 2007, David and Deanna and David’s parents, John and Olivia LaMotte, visited Pedro Molina to celebrate the library expansion. The students could not have been more excited about the books – they eagerly gathered around the tables where they were displayed – not posing for the cameras, but genuinely absorbed in the books themselves.
It’s estimated that one out of a hundred Guatemalans will read a book for pleasure this year. Reading simply isn’t part of the culture, but projects like this one are a step toward changing that. During the ceremony to celebrate the library improvements, Rigoberto Zamora, the founder of Probigua, said that this is now one of the best libraries in the country. It’s sobering to be reminded of that national context, and inspiring to see what we’ve done together. Most importantly, it’s one more reminder of how significant a small effort can become.