The Instituto Maya Ochoch Hik’eek Casa de la Esperanza is a community-based non-profit schooling center that provides basic educational services to students that are historically and geographically denied access to a formal education system. In addition, the center offers an alternative mode ofeducation by integratingMayan cultural principles in and out of the classroom.

The institute seeks to contribute and influence the formation of future leaders who will helpto find solutions to community problems, and exercise the rights of the Mayan community as part of a multi-cultural state. Therefore, our mission at Ochoch Hik’eek is to provide an alternative basic education based on the Mayan culture worldview (or cosmovisión), according to the reality of the community. We hope to contribute to building a society that is: democratic, socially just, intercultural, and environmentally responsible, while keeping in mind economic development and solidarity.

The foundations of our philosophy come from the history, culture, and worldview of the Mayan people, which are: respect for the Ajaw (creator of the universe), regard for Mother Nature, and the idea of harmony creating a peaceful coexistence between all beings and nature as they are integrated.

 

Alternate Study Model

The center bases it foundation in a modality of study divided into two phases, anin-class study phase and home-study phase, each having duration of 15 days. During the in-class study phase, students carry out intensive coursework at the school, and during the home-study period, students take assignments home with them to complete.

Because most of our students come from low-income families, the alternative study model encourages families to allow students to participate in the educational process without abandoning their responsibilities within the family and community. It’s often the case that the families and communities depend on every person within its unit to contribute in order for it to survive, so it´s imperative that students be able to participate.

We consider the alternate study model to encourage lifelong learning, as it allows students the opportunity to better analyze and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom towards their personal community and family. Different aspects of the community (such as work, trade, health, organization, culture, and especially the people) become sources of learning as the students interact and perform research driven by their educational process.

 

Visits to the community

While students are in their community, the continuity of the educational process is accomplished through distance learning. We feel it is important for us to explain what this means for student, since it consists of more than the traditional system of distance learning in which students read materials and complete assignments. We are speaking of an alternative process that is based on the reality of our students and their communities.

The education that the students are receiving helps facilitate and promote the students’ relationship with their physical and socio-cultural environment. Most importantly, their socio-cultural environment from a historical perspective, using both the current situation and future prospects. Through this interaction, the students learn to meaningfully and practically utilize what they have learned.

Depending on the resources of the institute, educators have accompanied students to their communities to encourage, support, and guide their distance learning experiences. This allows the teachers to better understand the problems of the families and communities so they can continuously adapt their lessons to the changing realities of the students.

In recent times, we have unfortunately had to abandon this part of our distance learning because of limited resources, but we hope to resume them in the future.

 

Objectives

*Develop the Mayan-self, from the comprehensive and systematic practice of Mayan culture.

*Promote community participation of men and women.

*Promote community self-management from the education received at the institute.

*Critical development of technical and Mayan sciences, as well as from cultures.

*Strengthen the vision of social service.

*Promote actions to improve the living conditions in the communities.

*Prepare students for a local political life, as well as regional and national levels, while using the framework of building a state that is multicultural and intercultural, democratic, participatory and fair.