Projects to improve the Education System in Guatemala

Synthesis of the document published by GIZ “Program to Promote Better Education” and the document written by Mireya Obregon for UNICEF “Gender and Education for All: The Leap to Equality. A step forward but still a long way to go: Guatemala” 

In the article call “Program to Promote Better Education” which explains the project call “PACE” (Programa de Apoyo a la Calidad Educativa), project that is coordinate by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), KfW Entwicklungsbank and some twelve other donor organizations in the network of international agencies that operate in the education sector, it is written by The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ); and the essay written by Mireya Obregon for the UNICEF call “Gender and Education for All: The Leap to Equality. A step forward but still a long way to go: Guatemala;” that focuses in how the Guatemalan Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) is implementing projects to achieve the EFA goals and the Dakar commitments. This documents are all about projects to improve the education system in Guatemala. Both documents discuss the situation of the Guatemalan education system and the effect that projects implemented by NGOs and Guatemalan political Institutions in order to eradicate the problems that the education system is facing. The authors of each document focus in programs that have the goal to eradicate issues like inequality, bad quality of secondary education, and the poor level of specialization that many teachers have.

Inequality in terms of access to education is one of the subjects that the projects in both documents try to eradicate. According to GIZ one the biggest problems in the education system in Guatemala is that “there are also significant differences between rural and urban areas, and between the indigenous and non-indigenous population,” which is originate because in Guatemala, teaching is mostly in Spanish, language that is not the mother tongue of many of indigenous children in the country; this fact generate that those kids see a limit in their process of getting knowledge. In her article, Obregon states that “the Ministry of Education in Guatemala (MINEDUC) still has a lot more to do and they must pool efforts in support of the rural sector. Particularly to overcome the conditions of extreme poverty and under-nourishment in which rural populations -especially of indigenous groups — live.” In the report made by GIZ, it establishes that one of the major subjects that PACE is focusing is “intercultural bilingual education” by “Promoting intercultural bilingual education at preschool and primary levels within the context of the national in-service training plan for teachers, with the active involvement of parents and local communities.” In the same way, Obregon explains how by implementing the Dakar commitments, MINEDUC has had putting into practice a project that is benefiting to children whose first language is not Spanish trough supporting “in most Community Education Committees (COEDUCAs) education (that) will now be assessed on the basis of the values of the indigenous culture, which differs from the Ladino (non-indigenous people) culture.” This is evidence that even when there is an issue of inequality to education access, there are projects like PACE and the Dakar commitments in Guatemala that try to eradicate this issue.

The secondary education is a big topic that both documents tends to talk about, this is because the secondary education in Guatemala is affronting two main problems which are bad quality of teaching and few accessibility to this education level, therefore, not only PACE but also the MINEDUC are implementing plans of action to eliminate those problems. GIZ explains that the percentage of matriculation in secondary education is very low “where the proportion of children enrolled in school is only 38 per cent.” In the same way, Obregon mentions that even when the secondary education in Guatemala is having some improvements there is also a long way to go, “partially as a response to this (UNESCO’s Education For All program goals,) a variety of short courses of study have therefore been introduced, as ‘diversified cycles’ of upper secondary education, with different specializations that allow pupils to work at the same time as gaining an education in a variety of technical options. This resolves the highly precarious economic situation that most Guatemalan families suffer. The problem is that only the urban areas have benefited.” To erase these problems, both institutions had have implementing projects that are directed to benefit the secondary education in Guatemala. In the document published by GIZ, the author explains that one of the approaches that the PACE project is focusing is “Rural secondary school education: Identifying formal and informal educational opportunities in rural areas that are better suited to meeting the requirements of local labor markets and the needs of the population.” In her document, Obregon mentions one project implemented by MINEDUC to attack these problems; “the ‘Telesecundaria’ or distance secondary education system represents a step forward that promises even greater advances in the future. This includes a classroom catering for 186 pupils in first grade basic secondary education.” Both authors argues that one of the main issues in Guatemalan education system is related to the secondary education and even when there are programs that try to eradicate this issue, it is important to keep making programs to achieve this goal.

The level of specialization that many teachers have in Guatemala has been always deplorable, this is why in both documents their own author had write about the projects that are been implementing in order to eliminate this issue. Obregon mentions that teachers had been obligate to make strikes in order to get founding to improve their skills, “the teachers were demanding continuing professionalization, implementation of the Education Reform.” This is why in the document published by GIZ, the author makes emphasis that the PACE “program promotes institutional capacities as well as the individual competences of Education Ministry staff, while also combining professional pedagogical advisory services with management and organizational advance at local, departmental and national levels.” This issue according to both authors has to be eradicate as soon as it is possible in order to improve the education system in Guatemala.