Maya Educational Foundation • P.O. Box 1483 • Wellfleet, MA 02667, USA • Phone 508-349-1330

Colegio Bilingüe Intercultural "Paxil"

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

Since its beginning in 2003, the Colegio has seen steady growth to at times over 100 students and serves Ixil and other Maya and Ladino youth.

Of all the middle schools in the Ixil area, Colegio Paxil is the only one with this principle at its core; while it follows the basic curriculum outlined by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education, providing up-to-date course work and technological skills, it also seeks to keep the students rooted in and proud of all elements in their Maya heritage.

At Colegio Paxil, Maya ceremonies, rituals and holidays are celebrated in addition to Guatemala’s official holidays, and traditional Maya skills are stressed along with computer and math skills.

Before the pandemic, the Colegio experienced an impressive growth in student numbers, despite the existence of a tuition-free public middle school in town where local children could go instead. During the pandemic, student numbers dropped dramatically but are now recovering again. After Xhun Guzman’s passing from COVID in 2021, his daughter Ank’ach was elected to become the school’s director. She shares a video with us

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.

The vital support for this school 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.

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 (black, red, white and yellow) 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.