Task-Tarea strongly believes that investing in education is the best long-term strategy to battle poverty in Guatemala.
The statistics below support this focus and further demonstrate why we have chosen to focus on rural Maya girls in Solola.


To properly understand the issues of education and poverty in Guatemala, one must pay special attention to demographics. Guatemala is a country where race, gender, and geography have a large impact on most any socioeconomic measure.

Roughly half of the population lives in a rural area, mostly in the country’s western highlands. These western highlands are where most of the Maya people of Guatemala live, making up nearly 40% of the country’s population.


Unfortunately, being Maya or living in a rural area also sifnifies a much higher chance of being poor. In Guatemala, over 75% of persons that are either Maya or rural live in poverty (Q10000 or $1400 / year). Even worse, nearly 2 out of 5 of these persons live in extreme poverty (Q5750 or $800 / year), leading to what the United Nations defines as the “severe deprivation of basic human needs”.


Many children, especially girls, are kept out of school to help with farm labor and household chores.

As is common in poorer countries, a high percentage of the workforce is dedicated to farming due to a lack of the infrastructure and skills that support higher paying jobs. Unfortunately, the demand for cheaper farm labor is one of the forces that keeps children out of school and perpetuates the poverty cycle. An estimated 22% of Maya children between the ages of 7 and 14 are part of the workforce.


Task-Tarea believes that an education gap has helped entrench poverty in the western highlands including Solola.

The literacy rates across Guatemala have seen a steady rise since the country’s long civil war ended 20 years ago, but 3 risk factors still severely decrease the chance of literacy: being Maya, being a girl, and living in a rural area.


Though there are some encouraging signs with respect to measurements of literacy and the completion of primary school, Guatemala continues to show low enrollment rates at higher levels of education.

Guatemala children stay in school for far fewer years than their counterparts in the U.S. or even Mexico.

In Task-Tarea’s target area of Solola, there is a steep drop-off of attendance beyond elementary school.

The statistics confirm the tight relationship and correlation that one might expect between education and poverty levels.

Task-Tarea’s scholarship program addresses this issue by incentivizing girls to enroll in school and continue schooling up through the completion of high school equivalency.

Furthermore, in 2022, Task-Tarea began to grow the scholarships as students achieved higher levels – a 33% increase for middle school levels, and an additional 67% increase for continuing to high school / vocational school.


In addition to the scholarships, we have found that quality food and water have a large impact on enrollment rates and student performance.

Water at a school is used for drinking, sanitation, cooking, gardening, and cleaning. But many schools do not have access to quality potable water, and during the dry season from November to April, water quantity is also an issue.

Task-Tarea has begun an assessment of water accessibility at its three partner schools.


Even when water is available, the schools have very limited funding for food. Many parents rely on the schools to feed their children; yet in 2018, each school in Solola was given 40 cents per student per day to provide breakfast.

40 cents is not a lot of money, but in the poor rural areas, it has a major impact on students. The availability of food at schools is a key motivator for families to enroll their children in a school. For this reason, this year, Task-Tarea is seeking ways to improve or enhance the food offerings at our partner schools.

Undernourished children are common in Guatemala, and even more common amongst the rural Maya population of Solola where Task-Tarea is located.

According to USAID:
“Guatemala has the fourth-highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, approximately 50 percent of Guatemalan children under five years of age are stunted due to chronic food insecurity. Within indigenous areas, nearly 70 percent of the population is chronically malnourished.”


Task-Tarea believes that small investments in technology can have a huge return on education quality, and the foundation of the information age technologies is Internet access.

We have offered Internet to our partner schools since 2014.  We have also designed a computer classroom template for schools that have sufficient security and teacher skills.


Conversely, Guatemala has a surprisingly high adoption rate of mobile phones, even in the poorest areas. The presence of so many mobile phones indicates that many parents, teachers, and older students have access to Internet communications and resources. This connectivity has also allowed Task-Tarea to plan and collaborate projects for the schools in ways that would not have been possible otherwise.


There are other areas that we will measure in the future to better track other aspects of the learning environment provided by each school.

These would include:

  • the number and type of computers
  • the student / teacher ratio
  • school dropout and graduations rates
  • the number of operational desks and chairs
  • the number of books in the school library
  • annual school supply budgets
  • water quality measurements


Since its founding in 1995, over 1,000 girls have benefitted from the Task-Tarea scholarship program.  These girls retain their scholarship each year that they continue onward with their schooling, thus encouraging progress up to middle school and high school levels.  When accounting for multi-year scholarships, the total number of annual scholarships awarded since inception has been over 3,000.

The percentage enrollment of girls has increased. In 2012, our schools saw just over 40% proportion of girls in schools. Today, we have achieved primary school enrollment parity between boys and girls with one school actually enrolling more girls than boys.

That same success is not yet fully realized beyond sixth grade, where we see a drop off of students continuing their studies.The challenge for the next decade will be to convince our scholars to stay in school past elementary school.

All Task-Tarea supported schools have been connected to the Internet since 2014.  The connection provides the foundation for online learning, exchange of education material, and live collaboration.

The Global Classroom program has been in effect since 2016.  During that time frame, we have held dozens of video conferences between elementary school classrooms in the United States and Guatemala.   The conferences have allowed for joint teaching sessions, cultural interchanges, and joint science projects.

Two dozen testimonials from a random sample of past Task-Tarea scholars have indicated that the young women are waiting longer to get married, establishing careers, and having fewer children.  A more thorough assessment is needed to better quantify this impact.

Over the past 7 years, Maya girls receiving a Task-Tarea scholarship have continued to middle school about 80% of the time and to high school (baccalaureate) about 72% of the time.  These numbers are far above the averages for rural Maya schools.­­