Sandra Coc


Sandra Coc

A young girl named Sandra grew up in the village of El Estor, and had limited chances to go to school because one of her sisters started school but didn’t finish. Her parents were upset about it and thought that Sandra would do the same thing.  Sandra begged and cried to her parents in order to get back to school and she said that she wouldn’t do the same thing as her sister. This is my story and I am Sandra Coc. Even though my mom always looked for a way to succeed in life, we did not have a decent home, enough food or clothes. I didn’t care about that; the important thing for me was getting an education. I began helping my mother at a young age with chores at home. I was never encouraged to get an education by my family because women needed to “stay at home”.

So I decided to study law because I wanted to learn my rights and responsibilities in order to live in society. Also, many people suffer from violence and abuse, and nobody is there to support them. Children and women are usually victims of many kinds of crime. If you are a woman, you get to hear comments like “you should have a child and get married”. However, if you are a man, no one would say that to you. I admire people who accomplish their dreams. My goal for life is to graduate from law school and provide a decent home for my family. When I get a better job, I would love to support younger people to get an education and encourage them to be successful in life. Without an education, we cannot go farther. I want to demonstrate that I am capable of helping others.

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.

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