Colegio Bilingüe Intercultural "Paxil"

The Colegio is an exceptional, nonprofit middle school in Nebaj founded by teachers and parents to provide a modern education in both Ixil and Spanish that respects both Maya and ladino cultures.

Of all the many private middle schools in the Ixil area, it is the only one with this principle at its core. While it follows the basic program outlined by the Ministry of Education, it supplements this in two ways: it provides up-to-date, technological skills and course work, and it seeks to keep the students rooted in and proud of all elements in their cultural heritage.

Maya ceremonies, rituals and holidays are celebrated along with the ones of the dominant culture, and traditional Maya skills are stressed along with computer and math skills.

When MEF started giving support to the Colegio in 2007, its situation was quite precarious. With only about 50 students enrolled, many of the students’ families could not afford to pay tuition at all or could only pay a portion.

Vital support for this comes from the Daniele Agostino Derossi Foundation which also provided special grants to purchase musical instruments, looms and weaving materials for the Colegio where girls and boys learn how to weave.

Over these past few years, the school has seen an impressive growth in student numbers, despite the existence of a tuition-free public middle school in town where local children could go instead.

One of the school’s board members proudly points out that in its 17 years of existence the Colegio has grown from serving 12 to 60, then 80, 90, and now 106 students.

The community, he says, has increasingly more confidence in the school. Parents and students in Nebaj appreciate that Colegio Paxil respects their customs and traditions and insists on the Ixil language being spoken, in addition to Spanish.

What is “Paxil”?

Paxil, in the Ixil language, means “to spread, to reproduce,” and Paxil is the name of a sacred site located in the village of Xo’ik’uay, in Chajul, Quiché, where, according to oral tradition, the four colors of sacred corn were first discovered. Maya spiritual guides visit Paxil to ask for blessings during all phases of the agricultural cycle, planting, growing and harvest. It is a fitting name, then as well, for a school where learning is spread and reproduced.

Your donation of $50 a month will allow a Maya student to attend this middle school.