Partner since 2013


Investment to date: $28,000


Students in 2016: 250


Cumulative Students: >300


Miguel Asturias Academy (Asturias) operates as a not-for-profit school in the Quetzaltenango area where poverty and low access to quality learning, especially beyond primary, is the norm. Established by Jorge Chojolán – a passionate educator and advocate for disadvantaged indigenous Mayan students – the Academy’s curriculum is inspired by the Brazilian, Paolo Freire and has been recognized by the Ministry of Education.  Asturias enrolls 250 or students (50% girls) annually in pre-Kindergarten through secondary school.

At Asturias, girls and boys are deeply engaged in an educational experience that encourages critical thinking, an understanding of one’s own culture and history, and becoming an active participant in society.  For older students, during their last two years at the Academy, students sign up for technical/vocational oriented courses while continuing to engage various school activities that might include music, chess, sports, and community service.

These final years ensure that they leave with practical skills and understanding for employment and social entrepreneurship that will better enable them to secure a livelihood and also fund their later university studies.



  1. The Academy's curriculum draws from the national curriculum framework and, at the same time, is inspired by the education philosopher Paolo Freire. 
  2. There is a strong focus on developing critical thinkers as well as engaged and aware students and citizens.  To do this, Asturias uses monthly themes, decided upon by a group of students, parents and administrators, such as gender, racism, environment and indigenous rights, etc.
  3. Students progress is assessed through reviews and discussions with teachers of their portfolio of projects and school work, their engagement in extra curricular activities and their interactions with their peers


  1. The Miguel Angel Asturias Academy has a well-stocked library that is has open access to all students throughout the day - a rarity in Guatemala.  
  2. In 2015-2016, Asturias engaged an external researcher to assist them with their first follow up study of all students who had graduated from the Academy.  
  3. The Academy plans to continue to track its alumni in the coming years and will use the results and learning to improve its programming and mobilize resources.
  4. The Academy’s 'Edu-tourism’ program creates educational travel opportunities for students and adults to visit, volunteer and learn about Guatemala and the Asturias Academy.


GEF invests in and partners with the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy because we see it as a transformative alternative to the public educational system in Guatemala, serving disadvantaged students such as those from poor indigenous families.  Asturias is focused on creating informed, critical thinking, socially conscious citizens that emerge as empowered and engaged individuals and ultimately leaders in their communities.  GEF agrees full with the Academy teachers and leadership that this type of education is vital for children and youth in Guatemala now and into the future.

GEF also supports Asturias because of their determination to become a self-sustainable organization. They are doing this through their innovative edu-tourism program that is bringing resources into the school’s endowment.  GEF is also excited about the founder’s plans for replication in the future.



A study done in 2015-2016 of all high school graduates from the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy to date indicates the following: 

At the student level

  • There is a 100% graduation rate of students.
  • 95% of the alumni were 1st generation learners which underlines their aim to target students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • 77% have continued onto university much higher than the national average.
  • 89% of Asturias graduates are working and most use part of their income to support their own continued university studies and assist their families.  An encouraging 26% had started their own business. 

At the school level

  • No repetition of students at the primary level
  • At the middle and secondary school level passing rates were 71% for boys and 95% for girls compared to half or less of this when compared to national averages. Although some students may repeat a grade, all graduation-aged students who have enrolled at Asturias have graduated. 


GEF support in 2015-2016 enabled the first review and tracking of the Academy’s graduates by a local Guatemalan evaluation expert and provided assistance with grant writing expertise in 2015. 



GEF has funded in-service training for teachers and contributed to selected teachers’ salaries, allowing for the Academy to invest a portion of students fees into the institutions endowment fund. GEF has also supported early planning for a potential Academy in a new location.  



GEF helped to bring Jorge Chojolan, Founder and Director of Asturias Academy to the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, CO.  During his week in Boulder, Jorge gave presentations at the Conference and made new connections with individuals and organizations.

“You do not need to return it to me. You only need to give the notebook to someone else who needs it in the future when you are able to do so”
— Jorge Chojolan, on his story and the founding of his school