Equipment has been donated for a computer lab on the upper floor of the Otto René Castillo community library. Children and teenagers who are studying at primary or secondary school are often expected to investigate and find out information about specific topics for their homework. This means that their parents have to pay for them to go to an internet café, a cost that the majority of families can't afford. This extra cost can prevent them from continuing at school. In addition, teenagers studying at middle school often have to pay extra tuition fees for computer classes, and so some do not take these courses and are denied the chance to learn vital skills- or drop out of school altogether.
The idea of the computer lab is to have a space where individual children and teenagers can practice their computer skills, do their research online, and prepare their reports and presentations at low cost. We also hope to provide a space for teachers from local schools to bring their classes to learn computer skills.
Thanks to a substantial donation from Calgary Rotary Club, and hours of work from Mike Farley, the lab is all set up and ready to go. The lab has 9 computers linked on a thin-client network which allows a technician/teacher to monitor and control the eight users machines. A suite of educational software is installed.
We are still raising money to hire a technician, for monthly internet fees, computer maintenance costs and any other ongoing costs so that we can provide free or low cost internet access and, eventually, computer classes for local children and teenagers. Help us raise funds.
The aims and objectives of the Otto René Castillo Community Library and computer lab are to help people from the surrounding communities to educate and train themselves, to provide local schools and local people with additional learning and teaching resources, and overall to empower people from marginalized communities and help them to achieve change in their communities.
Community Library Aims and Objectives:
1) To promote and help develop reading skills in children, teenagers and adults from surrounding communities.
2) To provide a space where children and teenagers can study and do their homework with the support of a local teacher and volunteers (families have no electricity in their houses in some cases, houses are small, overcrowded and noisy, at home most parents can't help their children with their homework because they have little to no education themselves).
3) To promote and help develop investigative skills and support children and teenagers who come to investigate and find out information about topics they are studying at school.
4) To promote reading for pleasure and storytelling.
5) To promote and provide access to Central American, Latin American and Spanish literature.
6) To promote historical memory and provide access to books and materials about Guatemala's history (two thirds of the population are under thirty and have neither been taught nor had access to information about the war and repression in Guatemala).
7) To provide access to books and materials about Central and Latin American history and world history, as well as other books and materials on subjects such as geography, science, health.
2) Computer lab aims and objectives
1) To teach and help local children, teenagers and adults develop a variety of computer skills, including word processing, carrying out searches on the world wide web, internet, putting together Power-point presentations.
2) To provide access to computers and internet to support children and teenagers who are studying and have to investigate topics online for their homework.
3) To provide wider access to the media, including alternative media sources (usually online).
4) To help community leaders apply for funding for their community projects by providing them with computers upon which they can write applications and providing access to printing and photocopying.
5) To use educational software to as means to stimulate learning of a wide range of subjects, both on and not on the official curriculum.