Once upon a time in Guatemala City, our directors had the idea to encourage school children between the ages of 9 and 12 to write and create a children’s newspaper.
These children study at our public schools, under the direction of the Ministry of Education. We wanted to, in some way, be part of a movement to encourage literacy. Nuestro Diario has supported to the Ministry of Education of Guatemala during the last three years with the “Let read and Count Together” programme, which is focused on motivating children around all the country to read, learn math, and put in practice core values.
Seven years later — after years of training, coaching, and interest from teachers and students — more than 4,000 children are involved in the creation of “El Chispazo,” the name given to our children’s newspaper, which debuted in 2013.
The interest was so high among our schools that 26 versions of Chispazos were printed, 21 for the rural area and four for metropolitan schools.
What did Nuestro Diario do to reach the goal of such a project?
Well, first we trained fourth- and fifth-grade teachers in more than 40 schools in the metropolitan area. We reinforced writing, syntax, spelling, photography, advertising, journalistic genres, design, and layout so the teachers could train children from their respective schools in how to develop a newspaper.
In 2013, we trained the representatives of different departments (teachers who supervise other teachers in a specific geographic area within the republic). We obtained such acceptance and excitement that the first sketches of the new newspaper began to arrive shortly. We received more than 40 sketches in all —written, diagrammed, illustrated with drawings and photographs.
You can imagine the joy we experienced at this level of excitement and participation.
From the 40 sketches from all over the country, we had to choose the winning look. This was a difficult duty. Some newspapers were designed using parts of different sketches sent to achieve one full concept of exceptional quality that covered all participating schools to avoid excluding one of these. The staff of Nuestro Diario created the layout, keeping special care in reviewing style and photography.
The end the result was 26 Chispazos, regionalised by department and delivered to each school in the principle city of the local department. UNICEF supported and assistant in this endeavor.
Private companies also sponsored Chispazom to provide support and financial viability to this project. With this commitment, we were able to print one El Chispazo for each of the principle towns of the country. Next April, we begin training teachers for El Chispazo 2015.
This kind of projects will give Guatemala a better education and a better country — which is the goal we all desire and dream about.