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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

CHOICE Humanitarian, Microsoft Edge Launch Program To Empower Guatemalan Women

Press Release – SALT LAKE CITY – Apr. 18, 2017 – CHOICE Humanitarian, in connection with Microsoft Edge, is launching a first-ever program today designed to empower Guatemalan women to become literate in Spanish. An introductory video of the program can be found here:

“Working with Microsoft Edge, we chose Guatemala because language and geographical barriers separate the Q’eqchi’ (Kekchi) population from the rest of the Spanish-speaking country,” said Christopher Johnson, CHOICE Humanitarian economic development director. “This program is geared to women because when a woman can read, it is powerful for a family, a community and everyone around her.”

No university in Guatemala teaches in Mayan languages. Without learning Spanish, no Q’eqchi’ woman can enter college.

“Today there are only men on the community development committees,” said Marta Coy, one of the first 18 women to take CHOICE and Microsoft Edge’s Accent program. “If I knew Spanish, I could become a community leader and bring projects that help women.

CHOICE Humanitarian, Microsoft Edge launch program to empower Guatemalan women

“I want to be an example to guide my daughters to learn. They can become leaders and bring new things to the community.”

The Accent program is unique because:

  1. It is open-source, which makes it adaptable for additional languages, curriculum, activities, etc.;
  2. It is geared toward adults with no technology experience;
  3. It teaches basic reading literacy skills and conversation in a second language;
  4. It does not require constant Internet connectivity; and
  5. It provides student performance analytics.

“Microsoft Edge is the perfect host to create this experience,” said Clarice Chan,Microsoft program manager. “The browser allows students to draw on web pages like never before. They don’t need to update an app. They get all the changes instantly.”

The Accent curriculum is multi-sensory, which accelerates learning, especially for anyone with no experience with today’s technology.

“Students can swipe or circle or drag and drop,” said Francesca Perkins, CHOICE Humanitarian economic development coordinator. “That type of kinesthetic learning will be helpful in the learning process.”

Facing a two-hour walk to school, many students do not attend. Girls in the Q’eqchi’ population region marry as young as 14 years of age and begin having children. If they do not marry young, they usually feel they are more useful at home than they are making the dangerous walk to attend school far away.

The CHOICE and Microsoft Edge program brings learning to women in their villages, providing them with an educational foundation to read, write and converse in Spanish.

“We are inviting the world to embrace this program and expand it so it can serve many populations and many needs,” said Johnson. “We applaud Microsoft Edge for that vision.”

More information on the Accent program can be found here:

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