Ak’ Tenamit

About the Project

Rural indigenous youth in Guatemala are born into a life of exclusion and poverty. Although they are the majority of the country’s population, Guatemala’s indigenous people have the worst rates of extreme poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and unemployment. 

Ak’ Tenamit, a Guatemalan organization owned and operated by indigenous people, has developed a unique methodology to provide rural-appropriate vocational education for at-risk indigenous youth from communities located primarily in and around protected areas. Its primary campus, located in the middle of the rainforest, is home to some 500 indigenous girls and boys who come from poor rural communities throught the country. 

At the school, they strengthen their sense of cultual identity, build their self-esteem and learn to identify the critical barriers that impact their rural communities, as well as possible solutions. Students participate in internship and apprenticeship programs thoughout their three years of study, graduating with 3,000 hours of hands-on experience, over 10 times the national average for high-school graduates. 

This innovative methodology is based on the indigenous mechanisms for transfer of skills and knowledge which are place-based, gradual, hands-on and holistic, as opposed to western educational methodology which tends to be compartmentalized, vertical and detatched from the daily lives of the students.


April 24, 2019 (last update 09-10-2019)