Hector Mendiola, a retired pediatrician from Mexico City, who is living in Utah since 1992, noticed that many of the children of migrant workers were illiterate in their native tongue and so he developed, along with Fred Berthong, a local community volunteer, a computer assisted program to help Hispanic youth who were illiterate in their native language to learn to read and write in Spanish and English.
The CALFNES program (Computer Assisted Language For Non English Speakers), which they created, and is now in the public school system, got the attention of the Mexican Federal Government, which in turn has led to recognition and connections with other federal officials and private businesses who provide educational programs to Mexicans living abroad. Other successes then followed Dr. Mendiola’s success
- Over the last 10 years, the Latino, (the largest nationality being Mexican) growth rate in Utah, has been 3 times that of the Anglo rate, at 76% for the decade.
- Currently Latinos make up 13% of Utah's population.
- The majority of the adults in this segment have much lower levels of education.
- Most live in poverty.
- They speak and write little or no English.
- Latino families isolate themselves from the greater community for a variety of reasons.
- Latino families keep involved with their families, original culture and country
- Many Latino families are disfunctional
- Latino public school students (the children) generally achieve 40% lower than the majority Anglo students in the quality of their education.
- About 80% graduate from high school.
- About 11% of Latino students continue on to college or a university and of these roughly 11% attain their bachelor's degree.
This situation not only contributes to many current societal problems and even greater future challenges, but it also represents a tremendous squandering of human capital.
As part of the solution of reducing this gap that separates the Latino communities from the larger community, and to enhance parent/children and school relationship, we have planned various strategies:
- Offer bilingual education to parents and students at no cost
- Find a school or school district interested to run friendly education to parents and supporting ESL
- Upgrade learning with Basic Computer Skills and typing
- Teaching bilingual education on line