My name is Marlen Jazmin Co Lep from the village of Gancho Caoba II. I am currently in the 4th year of high school majoring in Science and Letters with with specialization  in Computing. I am attending the school named Instituto Mixto Diversificado por Cooperativa de enseñanza (Institute Diversified by Teaching Cooperative). It is an Association of Community Students.

I was born on July 11, 2005, in the community of Rio Tzetoc, Cobán, Alta Verapaz. My father´s name is Filiberto Co Jalal, and my mother´s name is Candelaria Lep Bin. I have one brother and one sister, and I’m the third child. In my house we do not have water, so there were times in which my siblings and I had to go to a stream 2 kilometers away to collect water to take home. Often, my brother and my mother went into the surrounding forests to find some firewood since we have an open fire in the kitchen. My dad always went out to find work so that he could bring some money back home and pay for our studies.

While going to school, I have learned so much about computers. For example, I’ve learned about computer system parts and their functions. I do my homework tasks on a cellphone. This is my first year taking a computer class and I have a specialized teacher. I chose this high school field because I have always liked computer programming.  I am hoping I can continue with my studies and attend a university in two years.

My short-term goals are the following: pass my classes with good grades, maintain good behavior within my family and in school, gain the trust of everyone, and take care of my family. My medium-term goals are: continue with school, encourage my classmates to keep studying, know more about my community and help children in need, find a job, and stay healthy. 

My long-term goals are: get my degree and graduate in order to get a good and well-paying job. I’d like to support students who are in need so they can continue with their studies as well. I value everything I have and I’d like to have my own family. I always want to be grateful to the people who are supporting me in my studies. Overall, I want to achieve these goals with the advice and respect my parents have taught me, the support of my loved ones, and the good friends from GSSG

Education System Glossary

Since the Guatemalan government only funds education to the end of elementary school, it is not all that common, especially in the rural areas, for someone to graduate from middle school. Thus, these students are awarded an actual degree, called the Basico, which carries some weight when looking for a job, etc.

High school comes in a variety of flavors in Guatemala. All of course are private, and there are seemingly as many curriculums as there are schools. Some high schools focus on particular careers, such as teaching, accounting, surveying, etc. Usually, it takes 3-4 years to complete, and they are awarded with a certificate of competency at the end. In teaching, the certificate entitles one to teach at the elementary school level only. More academically-oriented high schools have a curriculum similar to US schools, which includes language arts, math, science, history, etc. These typically require 4-5 years to complete, and graduates are awarded the Diversificado degree, which is required if the student wishes to continue their education at the University level. This is the degree that most GSSG-supported high school students are pursuing.

The University system in Guatemala is like the high school system, in that there are many degrees, and many ways to get a degree. There is only one public university, the University of San Carlos, and about a dozen private universities. Like high school, students can decide early to specialize in a particular field, and after 2-3 years, graduate with a “tecnico” degree. In education, this degree awards them the title of “Profesor”, and qualifies them to teach all the way through high school. For those wishing to go further in Education or other fields, there is the “Licenciatura” degree, which is awarded after four years of study in one’s major plus an additional year researching and writing a thesis that addresses some national problem in Guatemala. So far, three GSSG students have been awarded their Licenciatura degree, with several more hoping to have theirs by next year.

Sponsor Marlen for just $25/month