We are thrilled to share that Limitless Horizons Ixil won the 2021 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) King Sejong Literacy Prize for our program, “Broadcasting Bilingual Stories: Promoting Interactive Literacy Programming in Rural Guatemala.” Limitless Horizons Ixil was one of six laureates hailing from Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Mexico, and South Africa to receive the prize, awarded in honor of our innovative approach to literacy programming during the pandemic.
When the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Guatemala in March 2020, we were forced to shut down our community library, the first and only public library in Chajul. With schools also closed, our students were left without learning resources and books, and little to no literacy opportunities available. In response, our team developed remote programs to address these challenges by delivering culturally responsive programming in Spanish and Ixil (the local Mayan language) through local radio and television stations. This provided access to enriching literacy and educational activities to all residents of Chajul and its surrounding villages (population 48,000), reaching far beyond our library members who traditionally can come in person.
In addition, our team engaged students through virtual book clubs, including purchasing internet data plans for families’ shared smartphones, and in the height of lockdowns, delivering books to homes through our book-lending program. This approach enabled us to continue providing Chajul’s youth with educational and literacy programming and the opportunity to build knowledge and inspire them to persist in their education, despite the increased difficulties of the remote learning environment.
Limitless Horizons Ixil received the UNESCO Literacy Prize on September 9 during a virtual conference for International Literacy Day. Filipa Lopes, our operations and project development specialist, represented Limitless Horizons Ixil. The event was held via Zoom with around 400 attendees including United Nations representatives, presidents, and ministers. The theme was “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.
On September 20, UNESCO, Guatemala’s Ministry of Education, the Korean Embassy of Guatemala, and CONALFA (Guatemala’s National Literacy Committee) hosted a special event in Guatemala City and presented our Managing Director, Verónica Yat, with an award in Guatemala. Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General noted:
“these programs have literally changed the lives of thousands of children, youth, women, and marginalized adults. Literacy empowers people and increases their ability to make choices.”
At Limitless Horizons Ixil, we view this prize as a tribute to the steadfast efforts of our Guatemalan team who work tirelessly to continue supporting Chajul’s youth with educational and literacy programming during this difficult time. We believe that by providing young learners in vulnerable communities with interactive reading and educational resources—coupled with guidance and role models—small transformations can occur that will have a catalyzing impact on future generations.