Public Education in Honduras
The Honduran public education system is comprised of underfunded, overcrowded schools. The World Bank reports average student to teacher ratios of 33:, but actual rates are frequently much higher. Only 25% of Hondurans have educations beyond 6th grade, which is the last year of compulsory education. Moreover, in recent years, public school teachers have been on strike for more than half the school year.
Other Bilingual Schools: Today, Honduras has many bilingual schools, particularly in urban areas. Many Honduran bilingual schools are for-profit, do not offer financial aid of any sort, and educate only the elite. Others offer cheaper tuition, but lack qualified English-speaking teachers and important educational resources like textbooks and computers.
In short, while wealthy Hondurans are able to afford an elite education, the options available to families of modest means are typically of substandard quality.
The Mayatan Model: Quality and Affordability
Mayatan offers Honduras a different model of high-quality education in English and Spanish. Our school was founded by local women and operates as a non-profit organization. The school has no religious affiliation. Mayatan has small class sizes (average of 16 students per class), offers educational amenities like an English-language library, laptop computers, and a wet science lab, and allows its graduates to earn Honduran and American high school diplomas.
Nearly half of all Mayatan students receive financial aid, thereby making a life-changing education accessible to students from impoverished rural communities and working-class families in Copán. Aid ranges from half-tuition to scholarships that cover tuition, books, transportation, lunch meals, and uniforms. As a result, our classrooms host wide-ranging economic diversity, uncommon in educational settings in Honduras.
Mayatan seeks sponsors to fulfill some its scholarship expenses. Sponsors are often individuals or groups of individuals who discover the school during a visit to Copán Ruinas. Sponsors play an essential role in allowing Mayatan to continue to offer scholarships to incoming students. Read more about becoming a sponsor here.
Our social mission helps us to attract native English-speaking teachers who accept small living stipends in order to keep the school's costs as low as possible. Our volunteers make one-year commitments, thus avoiding the 'revolving door' effect that some volunteer-run schools experience. Our English-speaking teachers work alongside a committed staff of Honduran teachers, some of whom have been at the school since its early years. Read more about teaching at Mayatan here.
Mayatan has remained committed to its dual goals of offering a high-quality bilingual education to an economically diverse group of students. This commitment has resulted in strong parent involvement, positive recognition and support from the Honduran government, financial aid provided by local businesses, and international support for scholarships, equipment, and infrastructure projects.
Mayatan has provided over 1,000 students from Copán Ruinas with a bilingual education they would not have otherwise received. Now, as our oldest graduates are in their mid-to-late--twenties, we're beginning to see the results of this investment. Both scholarship and non-scholarship students alike have attended universities throughout Central and North America -- approximately 80% of graduates go on to higher education after leaving Mayatan. These college graduates are now returning to Copán Ruinas to open new businesses, ranging from cafes to a psychiatry clinic, or to begin their professional careers in tourism, agriculture, and other fields. Read more about our alumni here.
Mayatan graduates are young -- the school's first class of students is now in their mid-to-late-twenties -- but have met much success in the world of higher education. Approximately 80% of Mayatan Secondary School and High School graduates have gone on to university, enrolling in schools throughout Central and North America. Mayatan grads have studied law, engineering, medicine, business, architecture, and a variety of liberal arts disciplines.
While most students attend universities within Honduras, many have their sights set on studying abroad. Unfortunately, attending school outside of Honduras can be prohibitively expensive. Mayatan is actively seeking ways to offer new, affordable opportunities for our students to continue their educations abroad. Several former students have won competitive scholarships to attend universities in the United States and intensive international baccalaureate programs in Canada. In 2011, Mayatan formed a new relationship with Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois, which now offers in-state discounted tuition to Mayatan graduates.
 USAID. Honduras Country Assistance Strategy: Fiscal Years 2009-2013.