Guatemala’s Educational Crisis

Education in Guatemala latin-american-illiteracy-rate
For more than a century, Guatemala’s history has been marked by successive military dictators, crushed movements toward democracy, and violence along class and racial lines. Today, a decade after peace accords ended a 36 year civil war, Guatemala is still a struggling nation, and has the second highest illiteracy rate in Latin America and the Carribean after Haiti [1].

Of every ten children, only eight will ever set foot in elementary school, and all but three will drop out before sixth grade [2].  Government-run schools are under-funded, overcrowded, and philosophically antiquated. Private schools are run like businesses—profit takes precedence over educating children.  Consequentially, most Guatemalans cannot afford education past basic literacy.

Other Inequalities in Guatemala
Further stacking the deck against Guatemalans is the fact that most of the wealth in Guatemala is controlled by a small handful of families. For example, in a country where 60% of the population depends on agricultural farming for survivial,  just 2% of the population controls 70% of all arable farmland [3].

For young people with limited resources it is hard to go to school, get a job, and be hopeful about the future.  The end result is cynicism and cycles of poverty and violence that rob Guatemalans of their dignity and human rights.

Finally, Guatemala suffers from intense racism against indigenous people as well as intense sexism that denies women a place outside of the home.  The Academy acknowledges these prejudices and places top priority on eliminating them through creative educational practices.


[1] Villatora, F.R. (2008). El Estado de la Educación en América Central. Fundación Innovaciones Educativas Centroamericanas.
[2] Richards, R. (2007). “Transforming Education.” Mpls, MN: Need Communications Inc.
[3] Viscidi, L. (2004).”A History of Land in Guatemala: Conflict and Hope for Reform.” Americas Program. Silver City, NM: Interhemispheric Resource Center. September 17, 2004.