A School on the Edge

Date posted: Tuesday 19 February 2019

The ILAG Elementary School, Colegio Luterano Agustino de Guatemala (CLAG), is located in the marginalized neighborhood called El Mirador. It is a small, rectangular, cement block building with four classrooms, two tiny bathrooms, and a patio just large enough for the 95 students and four teachers to gather for programs and presentations. There is no grass for soccer games, no library, no cafeteria, no gymnasium. But there is excellence.


At the end of the school year in 2018, CLAG was recognized for its quality of education in a ceremony held at the Department of Education. This accomplishment is quite a feat, considering the following facts provided by the ILAG:


  • Guatemala requires access to education for all children, yet it spends only 3% of its GDP on schools. There is not enough space in schools for all of the children.
  • Half of all Guatemalan families live below the poverty line. Public education is not free, and many families cannot afford to send more than one child to school. More than 30% of females drop out of school before the third grade.
  • In indigenous communities, only 1 in 10 children ever reaches high school.
  • Malnutrition is common, and almost 50% of all Guatemalan children are stunted in growth by their poor diet.

In the year 2000, the ILAG Pastoral Team opened this little school in El Mirador, a gang-riddled neighborhood where many parents work full-time and often leave their children home alone. Pastor Esther Echeverria, a trained elementary school teacher, knew that a school here would make a difference by offering a safe place for children. Indeed, many students have graduated from the 6th grade, some going on to finish junior and senior high school.


But the school, located very close to edge of a crumbling ravine, needs to relocate. The government has declared the whole neighborhood to be unsafe. The next monsoon rain might pull the entire area down.


On May 5th, 2019, we will hold our 6th Annual Guatemala Gala. Funds raised at the Gala will go to support education and re-locating CLAG. A new spot for the school has been found. Now let's come together to help make the move possible.


More information about the Gala will be coming soon. See you on May 5th!
Janet Metcalfe
Augustana, West St. Paul