Education in Guatemala

Education in Guatemala is free and compulsory for six years.[1] Guatemala has a 3-tier system of education starting with primary school, followed by secondary school and tertiary education, depending on the level of technical training. 74.5% of the population aged 15 and over is literate, the lowest literacy rate in Central America.[2]

Issues Regarding Education in Guatemala

Despite primary education being compulsory and provided free by the government, the mean average years of schooling in 2011 was 4.1 years per student.[3] 25.5% of Guatemala's population are illiterate, with illiteracy rates up to more than 60% in the indigenous population.[4][5]

Education resources

The recruitment and retaining of quality teachers poses a large problem in rural areas of Guatemala. Apart from the meagre pay, most teachers often come from larger towns, where they have been able to receive higher education, and, faced with a daily commute of a few hours in order to reach the rural areas, many would rather seek employment in the larger towns first. The lack of curriculum guides or teaching materials in rural schools also hamper efforts to improve education standards in those areas[6]

The current state of education in Guatemala is significantly under-funded. Many classrooms nationwide, especially in rural Guatemala, do not meet minimum standards for many classroom space, teaching materials, classroom equipment and furniture, and water/sanitation.[7]

School attendance

With more than half the population of Guatemalans living below the poverty line,[8] it is hard for children going school, especially indigenous children, to afford the rising cost of school uniforms, books, supplies and transportation, none of which are supplied by the government.[6] This is exacerbated by the fact that, for poorer students, time spent in school could be time better spent working to sustain the family. It is especially hard for children living in the rural areas to attend primary school and most drop out due to the lack of access and largely inadequate facilities.

Gender inequality in the sphere of education is also common, where male literacy and school enrolment exceeds female rates in all aspects. Out of the 2 million children who do not attend school in Guatemala, the majority are indigenous girls living in rural areas. Most families subscribe to patriarchal traditions that tie women to a domestic role and the majority would rather send a son than a daughter to school if they could afford it.[9]

See also


  1. "Guatemala". 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2002).
  2. Education (all levels) profile – Guatemala. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved on 2012-01-02.
  3. "2011 Human Development Report". United Nations Development Programme. p. 160.
  4. [ Education (all levels) profile – Guatemala. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 22 February 2012.]
  5. Education (all levels) profile – Guatemala. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved on 2012-01-02.
  6. 1 2 School Efficiency in Rural Guatemala Kathleen S. Gorman and Ernesto PollittInternational Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale de l'Education , Vol. 38, No. 5 (Sep., 1992), p. 523 Published by: Springer
  7. The Development of an Educational System in a Rural Guatemalan Community Oscar H. Horst and Avril McLellandJournal of Inter-American Studies , Vol. 10, No. 3 (Jul., 1968), p. 478-479Published by: Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami
  8. [ CIA World Factbook, Guatemala". July 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2012]
  9. Education and Poverty in Guatemala, John Edwards, 2002. p. 23 and 30. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
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