Literacy Programs in the Mirador Basin

An important component of the research and conservation work in the Mirador Basin has been the social, educational, and developmental work with the communities that surround the Mirador Basin. The purpose of such activity is to provide economic alternatives to the negative forces that destroy the environment, the archaeological sites, and individual lives and families. It has been tremendously gratifying to see the achievements and accomplishments of people who traditionally have had so little hope. The opportunities that are provided by the project represent a major advantage for the protection and preservation area, and represent a real solution to many of the problems facing Guatemala and the Lowland communities that live adjacent to the Mirador Basin region.

Literacy classes for project workmen have been an integral component of camp activity in the Mirador Basin since 1991. During the 2006 field season, however, these programs were substantiall y enhanced. In 2006, the National Council o f Literacy (CONALFA) program was implemented at El Mirador. The CONALFA curriculum enables teachers to work with students according to their individual progression. Out of 220 workers, 160 workers chose to participate in evening sessions, and 23 individuals completed the first stage of the course. Diplomas were presented on site. CONALFA has been a major success in the Basin and the program has continued and expanded.

In 2009 the Mirador Basin Project taught literacy courses to 124 workmen in evening classes after work, with the majority learning to read and write their names, read elementary texts, and read and write numbers. Math courses were also taught for basic home and business financial calculations. In addition, educational classes were taught to all 168 workmen on subjects ranging from history, ecology, financial investing, hygiene, health and first aid, archaeology, photography, investment strategies, botany, and biology. In addition, English classes were taught to interested workmen who needed to learn English for tourism services in the future. A total of 22 workmen received English courses in 2009. Courses were taught by project staff in the evenings.