Child labour

Child education issues
Coffee retail

US-based coffee retailer Starbucks sources coffee from areas in Guatemala where 90% of the population in the surrounding area is indigenous Maya. The Maya have long experienced high rates of poverty and low levels of educational attainment, with many children dropping out of schooling early due to the unfamiliar education environment and language. This case highlights efforts by a company to promote the right to education of underprivileged Mayan children.

In 2005, Starbucks entered into a partnership with the NGO, Save the Children. Starbucks has pledged USD 1.5 million over four years to a programme designed to provide bilingual and bicultural education to children in coffee-growing communities in three Guatemalan highland provinces. The sites were chosen in co-ordination with the Guatemalan Ministry of Education and were chosen according to criteria based on high levels of need (as defined by the World Bank); community commitment and interest in the programme; low pre-school, primary and secondary enrolment/attendance. The programmes are targeted at children whose family livelihoods depend primarily on coffee production.

The scheme extends to 20 pre-primary centres, 20 primary schools and over 3,000 secondary school students through a rural distance-learning programme. Particular emphasis is placed upon girls' education and on bilingual intercultural instruction. It is hoped that thousands of Mayan children will benefit from curricula that are culturally appropriate.

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