Vilma Saloj: Providing a successful model of empowerment in rural Guatemala

English / Español

Vilma is one of many champions being highlighted by the GEM Report in the run up to the launch of its 2020 publication on inclusion and education: All means all, due out 23 June. In their own way, and in multiple countries around the world, these champions are fighting for learner diversity to be celebrated, rather than ignored.

Vilma is the principal at MAIA‘s Impact School, an inclusive school that provides quality education at no cost to students from usually underserved areas and promotes inclusion through local empowerment: all staff members at the school are from the area where the students come from.

Coming from a large family in a community trapped for generations in cycles of poverty, where parents are not accustomed to sending their female children to school, the likelihood of Vilma becoming a successful professional was not high. However, her father had confidence in her and her sisters, so, with the help of scholarships, Vilma moved to an urban area to complete high school and college. Vilma wanted to have a positive impact on society and decided to study to become a teacher, a career traditionally accessible to those with limited opportunities.

For Vilma, all schools have a responsibility to create spaces where all children are welcome. It does not make sense to create special schools that only receive children of one cultural identity or children with ‘special abilities’, for example, as doing so would exclude them from the system. Ideally all children should be in the same system.

“Our Educators and Mentors come from the same context so that our students see themselves in them, and are able to take math classes, speak English and go to university.”

In MAIA, Vilma found the space she was looking for to make a positive, individual and intergenerational impact. Over the past 10 years, MAIA has grown from a mentoring and coaching programme for public school girls to a school in itself. The school welcomes female students aged 11 and 12 from places which usually have little access to education.

“Let’s listen to our population! They know their context and they know their needs! This will allow the Educational Authorities to respond to their differentiated capacities with integrity and inclusion, and to meet their demands. One should not design something from a single perspective and ultimately realise that it is not what the population needs.” Vilma

The 2020 GEM Report on inclusion will address all those excluded from education systems around the world. It provides concrete examples of policies which countries are implementing to help tackle exclusion, as well as recommendations on how to ensure that all children – regardless of their identities, backgrounds or abilities – can access quality, inclusive education. Register here to receive a copy in your inbox as soon as it is published on 23 June.

Join our first ever virtual global launch on 23 June to hear from inclusion champions, ministers, teachers and celebrities from different corners of the world.




  1. I just come across one of the top international conference alert providing website portal. The main objective of their website is to inform the forthcoming international conferences to global researchers, students, scientists and academic professionals. You can learn explore new stuffs

Leave a Reply