Summary of “Improving the Education System in Guatemala is the only Answer to Violent Crime”

In her article “Improving the Education System in Guatemala Is the Only Answer to Violent Crime” Megan McAdams writes about education in Guatemala and its effects in the Guatemalan society. She argues that the inefficiencies of the Guatemalan educational is one of the many problems in the country because it generates a violent environment and the only way to solve this problem is by improving the educational system. The author makes emphasis in the problems that generates the ineffectiveness of the education system like economic background, the national curriculum of education, and discrimination, and its huge contribution to the formation of a violent environment.

McAdams evaluates the economic background of many families in Guatemala and its relation with the low percentage of children enrolled in school and how this affects to the violence in which Guatemala is immerse. The author explains that even when Guatemala offers free public education, there are some economic barriers that prevent many students from poor families to take advantage of this free public education, this barriers are “school uniform fees, and school supply prices”, added to the economic needs of many families that see that sending their children to school is the difference between having enough money to buy the basics to eat or not. This is because for many families kids represent an extra pair or hands that can work to support their families. McAdams evaluates this problem by saying that the Guatemalan “future leaders and community voices are falling to gain an education, contributing to a desperate cycle of poverty” and ultimately “without an education, doors remain firmly shut and these young minds turn to unskilled labor or crime to support their families.”

The Guatemalan national curriculum of education is full of deficiencies that mainly contributes to the inefficiencies of the Guatemalan education system. In order to prove her point, the author analyzes the low quality of Guatemalan education that in addition to its huge difference with the top countries in the education field like Holland, Finland, Canada, and Australia, where kids attend during all day, in Guatemala kids only attends half day and most of these half days are interrupted by teachers strikes and protests. McAdams refers to the fact that students are failing to achieve even the most basic levels of understanding, one study made by the Great Campaign for Education revealed that only one of five high school students demonstrate a basic understanding of math, and only fifty percent of primary school students demonstrated basic reading and mathematical abilities, and it generates that most of the students fail the admission test for the university. The author also sees that the bad quality education is generate mostly because many teachers “are not adequately prepared to be instructing”; the same study made by the Great Campaign for Education gave as a result that “Guatemalan teachers failed to answer eighty percent of the questions on material they were expected to be sharing with and imparting to their students”, this study also found that teachers rarely receive the supplies and textbooks necessary to support their instruction.

McAdams asserts that the big level of discrimination in Guatemala plays an important role in the importance that families give to education, because of discrimination to indigenous people in terms of accessibility to good education, getting good jobs and salaries, most of poor families decide to not send their children to school, it generates a high risk that the people who does not have the opportunity to get a good job and a faire salary join gangs. McAdams argues that the Guatemalan government must improve the standard of education and ensure job opportunities for graduates if it hopes to reduce the rampant crime and violence still plaguing the country, however, other factor complicating the idea that opens doors for graduates is the rampant discrimination in the workforce of Guatemala. She gives the data recollected from a study made by the Presidential Commission on Discrimination and Racism in Guatemala (CODISRA) to support the idea of discrimination against indigenous people which reflects that only twelve to twenty percent of employees are indigenous when indigenous represents between forty to sixty percent of the Guatemalan population and they also earn fifty percent less that the non-indigenous people. The author suggest that the only key to eradicating racism and discrimination from the workplace is providing quality education to the entire population, and not just to the privileged elite. It is because the children of wealthiest families receive a better level of education in private institutions and they also have access to other sources like tutoring sessions.

McAdams concludes by suggesting to the government that instead of implement laws short term benefits like implementing security by police force, the government must implement long term policies to improve the education system which also will generate a more peaceful and justice society but in a sustainable way.