Education in Guatemala: The Most Significant Problems to Change

In recent years, the education system in Guatemala has significantly improved. More people have access to education now than ever before. Still, the country faces literacy challenges where statistics point out that in every ten Guatemalans, one is illiterate. In the urban areas, education systems continue to impact positively to the students to almost required levels while in the rural areas, the opposite is prevalent. This can be explained by the large gap between the rich and the poor and also the resources disparity between urban and rural areas.

How Is the Education System in Guatemala?

The education system in Guatemala consists of primary, middle, secondary, vocational and tertiary education. It is mandatory and free for every child to go through the first six years of primary school. This situation does not guarantee education, however, because of the scarcity of schools in the rural areas. The resources in the available schools are also inadequate due to lack of funding.

The number of students in the education system gets lower with each stage. The tertiary level has the lowest number of students.

What Are These Problems?

  • Poor Funding

Poor education is a result of corruption and bureaucracy. Aims to improve the system with the provision of necessities such as textbooks have failed terribly because of those put in charge. It is required that each child is fed at school with balanced meals to prevent malnutrition. The program was not successful because the funds are always late and barely enough.

Besides, despite the requirement that education is free for all students, parents have to contribute to several projects such as water projects. It is for these reasons that parents might choose not to send their children to school.

  • Overworked Teachers

Reports from UNICEF point out that in the rural areas of Guatemala, a teacher is responsible for more than 40 students each. In other schools, a teacher is responsible for more than three sets of separate age groups of students and is also the head of the school. Low wages and low resource provision also makes it even more difficult to teach these students. This makes more people unwilling to take the career.

  • Crime

There have been cases where criminal gangs have threatened to both teachers and students demanding protection money. In the case where they have not paid, the schools have been closed indefinitely. Crime is prevalent in the Guatemala Society with occasions of injury or death happening in schools.

  • Natural Disasters

Guatemala is a region prone to floods, landslides, and earthquakes. Many school buildings stay in poor condition because the repair was never done after these natural calamities. In the case that any of the disasters occur, students remain out of school for an indefinite amount of time.


  •  an Education System That Is Failing

In 2017, protests and strikes by teachers all over the country shortened the learning period to only 146 days. This can be directly blamed by the fact that more and more students lack simple educational understanding skills. The report also pointed out that in every five students, only one had a basic comprehension of mathematics. It is for this reason that fewer and fewer students join the next level of education because only a few can pass the required test criteria.


What Can Be Done to Improve Education in Guatemala?

  • Ensuring that education is result oriented and centered on the child regardless of their gender or origin. It would go a long way in creating a conducive environment for studying to those who are discriminated against.
  • Ensuring that the teachers posted the classrooms are appropriately trained with required skills and that they are attentive to the rights of the children and gender sensitive. Besides, these teachers must have an appropriate wage and a reasonable responsibility regarding the ratio between students to a teacher.
  • Promotion of health systems in schools. The only way to impact the poverty-stricken communities in Guatemala is providing information to students on various health issues. Issues such as HIV/AIDS, hygiene and nutrition will not only be relevant to them but also the society.
  • Creating an enabling environment in schools through sports. Sports has for long been great motivators towards self-esteem, leadership, and teamwork. If the opportunity to engage in games promoted in the schools, then education will be wholesome not only building on academic skills but also personal and social skills among the students.
  • More commitment by the Government towards education. 50% of the challenges facing the education system in the country would have a solution if the government became more committed. This commitment would include assigning more budgets for resources, training of teachers and campaigns to ensure that each child receives an education.


There is an excellent chance for the education system to be better and even more, for the education system to present the country with better leadership, health, and gender sensitivity. It is only through education that atrocities such as crime, discrimination and poor management will get permanent solutions.



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