First Advisor

Seymour Adler

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Non-governmental organizations -- Developing countries, Adopt A School (Program), Rural Education -- Guatemala



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, v, 225 pages)


As government agencies face a complexity of economic and political issues the availability and utilization of resources through private voluntary organizations (PVOs) have become increasingly important. A review of the literature covering the role of PVOs in developing countries indicates the significant contribution these agencies can have in the development process. There are only a handful of situations where small organizations are working directly with a government agency in the provision of a public service. Theoretically, PVOs are adaptable to a variety of settings, are effective conduits for delivering aid to the grassroots level, and are able to initiate long term development activity. This study considers these characteristics in the midst of the relationship that exists between a foreign PVO and a host government in the delivery of public education to a rural indigenous population.

A U.S. based organization named "Adopt-A-School" has been working in 3 districts of northern Guatemala's Cuchumatanes Highlands since 1984. The focus of its work has been to provide students in selected public schools with basic supplies (e.g., paper, notebooks, pencils, and dictionaries). The organizational structure of the PVO consists of a constituency group from whom donations are received, a board of directors that manages the available resources, and field workers who implement the program. The analysis of this PVO-government relationship is based on qualitative and quantitative data collected by interviewing participants on local and national levels, distributing questionnaires to teachers (N = 156) and PVO donors (N = 32), and performing participant observations in selected communities and schools.

The decisions regarding site selection have been important factors in the effectiveness of the AAS program and has contributed to the strength of its durability. Data indicate that the longevity and replication of this program rests on the fragile relationship network that exists between the PVO, its donors, and the host-government. This study shows that foreign PVOs can play a significant role in local communities by encouraging the growth and development of new structures that link grassroots organizations with those who maintain economic and political power.


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