The Hempel Foundation

Too many indigenous children never get a proper education - especially the girls drop out too early. Together with the Hempel Foundation, we are changing that for 10,000 indigenous children in Bolivia and Guatemala

School books that make no sense. Teachers who speak a language you do not understand. Violence and abuse in and outside the school.

The challenges are almost insurmountable for many indigenous people’s children when they begin at school. And that means, unfortunately, that too many drop out before they really begin to learn. Especially the girls have a hard time: In Guatemala girls with an Indian background only stay in school for 2.6 years in average. In Bolivia, only one in four Indian girl completes the 6 years of primary school.

The Sustainable Development Goals clearly states that by 2030 all children in the world should have access to quality education. Therefore, Oxfam IBIS and Hempel Foundation have entered into a strong strategic partnership to do something about it. Hempel Foundation contributes 18 million Danish kroner to the project, and together with local educational authorities and partners, we will significantly improve teaching for 10,000 indigenous people’s children in Guatemala and Bolivia over the next 3-4 years.

"It's a fantastic collaboration we've made - and it's going to make a world different for a whole lot of kids. We will look at how we can support the teachers and how new technology can help improve learning and keep the children - including the girls - in school, so that they have the opportunity to create a future free of poverty and discrimination. We can hardly wait to get going,”says education adviser Grethe Markussen from Oxfam IBIS.

Two-stage rocket towards the future

The project will focus on two fronts. First and foremost, we will work to improve the teaching that the children encounter in school. It must be based on their own world and history - and not a reality thousands of miles away concerning people living in a completely different way to themselves. And then it must be in a language they can understand.

“The teachers need to be able to teach the children's mother tongue. Otherwise, the children end up learning nothing,” says Grethe Markussen from Oxfam IBIS.

Hempel Foundation and Oxfam IBIS

Oxfam IBIS has been fighting for the rights of indigenous people Latin America for more than 30 years. We have previously successfully collaborated with the Hempel Foundation on education in Bolivia and in a number of African countries.

Secondly, the special challenge for the girls is that they are exactly that - girls. Too many experience abuse in school or in the communities. And many become pregnant and drop out already in primary school. In Bolivia as a whole, one in four girls between the ages of 12 and 18 has become a mother. In the areas where we have to work, the figure is up to 71 percent.

“The local communities are characterized by a macho culture. If we are to succeed in doing something about the violence against women and girls, we need to broaden the scope of schooling. It is the entire community that needs to be involved,” explains Grethe Markussen.

Therefore, education of school and parent committees becomes important ingredients in the program - in addition to teacher training and the development of new teaching materials.

“The goal is that all girls and boys in a few years will finish primary school and move on to further education. And we are committed to developing a model that can be broadened so that other children will benefit from the project,” states Grethe Markussen.