Global Reach: Grantee Partners

Patronato Pro Educación Guaquitepec, A.C.


Chiapas, a southeastern state in Mexico, has the highest population of indigenous people in the country. Historically, indigenous populations faced challenges accessing education, health, and employment, among other essential rights. This continues to be true in Chiapas, as 75.5% of the state’s population is living in poverty, the highest in all of Mexico. Chiapas is also one of the poorest performing states in terms of education: the average level of schooling for people aged 15 years and older in Chiapas (7.8) is two full grades lower than the national average (9.7). This disproportionately affects indigenous populations, as they are more at risk of not enrolling in school, not completing compulsory primary education, or not achieving the expected levels of learning. Some indigenous public schools do not have teachers who speak indigenous languages, making it difficult for students to perform successfully and discouraging school attendance. Additionally, there is a tendency among indigenous young people to drop out of school after secondary school due to pressures to earn an income or because their families do not see the relevance of what they are learning for their daily lives. Girls are especially in danger of dropping out of school due to chore burdens, or family pressure. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the incidence of school dropout significantly. An intervention to prevent such school dropout is needed because low education levels contribute to a vicious cycle of poverty that tends to repeat itself for generations, hindering social mobility. 


Patronato Pro Educación Guaquitepec, is a Tseltal (an ancient Maya sub-group) grassroots organisation that started in 1993 as a Patronato Pro Educación Mexicano’s initiative to attend the community’s demand for education. This led to a 25-year intervention in the community of Guaquitepec to offer high-quality, bilingual (Tseltal & Spanish) and intercultural education. The project included the creation of a secondary school called "Emiliano Zapata Salazar" and a high school named "Bartolomé de Las Casas" that, from the outset, were run for and by the community. Therefore, the objective was to incorporate young people from the community, with the idea that they would take responsibility for the operation and administration. Thus, in 2015, the transition began, and Patronato Pro Educación Guaquitepec was created. 

In its two schools, Patronato Gaquitepec works with approximately 120 indigenous students between the ages of 12 and 17 from five communities. The schools have a bilingual, comprehensive, and culturally relevant educational model with an environmental and human rights approach from a Tseltal cosmovision.

Current Grant:

EMpower's first grant to Patronato Proeducación Guaquitepec will use a two-pronged approach to prevent school dropout among 185 indigenous youth, particularly girls. On the one hand, it will support 65 secondary students to stay in school and maximise their academic performance from its "Emiliano Zapata Salazar" secondary school. utilize a peer mentor approach to spark interest in learning and enrollment in secondary school among 120 indigenous students from four elementary public schools in the area. In addition, Patronato will refine and implement its educational model, ensuring the intervention's sustainability by training teachers in the adapted model. Finally, Patronato will sensitize parents on issues relevant to their children's education to create a more supportive environment for young people to stay in school. 

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