Hello, Eduardo. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Building three schools in just four years is an impressive feat. Could you tell me more about what goes into building these schools and what Capgemini’s volunteers bring to the project?
Eduardo Castillo: In Guatemala, there are many communities with a lack of adequate schools and available educational resources for a number of years. One of the main problems is, most of the schools in Guatemala don’t have the necessary number of classrooms. This means the classrooms are overpopulated. So, to compensate, schools create classrooms using aluminum sheets and don’t have the proper resources to teach students properly. In fact, over 40% of the nation’s children don’t finish elementary school.
At Capgemini Guatemala, we realized we had the chance to drastically improve the lives of so many young people by building schools in some of the most at risk areas and giving them access to technology that they normally wouldn’t have the chance to engage with. In four years, we have built three schools and given over 2,500 students the opportunity to get an education. Thanks to this Capgemini program, the number of parents who can enroll their children has grown exponentially.
Our volunteers bring a ton of dedication and commitment to the project; they focus on every aspect of the task at hand, from building the school, to decorating it, to making sure it has the necessary supplies, and completing it with excellence. When they finish, they feel a real sense of accomplishment and want to continue supporting these children and the schools.
Can you explain what sort of ongoing training you have for teachers working at these Capgemini community schools, especially as you bring in more computers and technology for the children to work with?
Teachers are trained by a fantastic program called Mundo Possible. The training takes place on school premises and consists of five hours of training, specifically focusing on the development of RACHEL Plus software, a special educational software program created by our corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S) partners, United Way Guatemala. RACHEL helps students solidify the math and language skills they are learning at school.
We can see that this initiative has had a significant impact on the children, their families, and the surrounding communities. But what about the ways it has impacted Capgemini Guatemala?
For the Guatemalan team, this project has allowed them to see a side a Guatemala they may have been aware of but never really experienced or dealt with firsthand. They view this opportunity to give back to their community, while doing so with their colleagues and the support of Capgemini Guatemala, as priceless.
As a team, we want to be active participants in the development of our country, helping its children learn in a nurturing environment, and thus feeding their curiosity about science, technology, and learning as a whole.
You recently delivered 80 computers and held a science fair at Villa Verde school for its second anniversary. Can you tell me about some of the activities the students participated in and how exposure to technology and innovation has helped these students engage more with the world around them?
On January 17, we celebrated the school’s second anniversary by delivering and additional 80 laptops to their mobile computer lab. Each of the computers is equipped with the RACHEL PLUS software, which was designed as a way to assist in developing students’ interest in math and language and give them supplemental assistance in solidifying their skills in each of these areas.
On top of that, we also held a science fair for 100 of our students to participate in. They were chosen according to their academic performance, as well as their interest in science and technology. These students were able to learn about and then perform 10 different experiments.
Some of the most popular experiments were the ones where students engaged with various ways of creating energy and how this energy could then power a number of items. For example, the children learned that by using the kinetic energy generated by mixing vinegar and baking soda, they were able to launch a PVC rocket or that by using the citric acid from a lemon, with a little help from some copper and zinc electrodes, they were able to power an LED light.
What do you think initiatives like this mean for Capgemini as a whole, and what can other Capgemini locations learn from the “Building a Better Future for Children” project?
Initiatives such as the “Building a Better Future for Children” project show how committed Capgemini is to making a positive impact within our communities. One of the most important things we have learned is if you focus on initiatives that were chosen by the team, your people are far more invested in its success and are therefore willing to donate considerable time and resources to ensure it flourishes and grows every year. This initiative is by far our best team building activity.
As the project enters its fourth year, it has just completed its third school and has helped provide over 2,500 children with an education. What’s next for the “Building a Better Future for Children” project, and how can people outside of Capgemini contribute?
There are many communities throughout Guatemala who are in desperate need of projects like this. For us, as a part of the community, it is vital to continue providing children with an education and access to technology, giving them the tools to help them reach for their dreams.
Currently, we are in the collection and planning stage for the next phase. In the meantime, we are working with United Way to evaluate the options we have available to us to continue supporting the schools we have built. Donations this project received during February and March will be used for a new initiative called “Actua Ahora,” the goal of which is to deliver humanitarian kits to families across Guatemala who have lost income and resources due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Even if you aren’t in Guatemala but still want to help, you can either donate directly to United Way or look for one of our “go fund me” campaigns.
Read more of our corporate, responsibility, and sustainability (CR&S) stories from across the Business Services community.
Eduardo Castillo is an accomplished leader with over 15 years of experience in business process outsourcing and networking in the US, Canada, and Latin America. His strengths include a strong focus on revenue and cost management, P&L accountability, business development, and strategic planning built around the relationship between operations, financial objectives, and clients’ requirements.