Education in Guatemala: Supporting the Unreached and Underserved
As one of its Millennium
Development Goals, the United Nations hopes that by 2015, children around
the world will be able to complete at least their primary schooling. This is
already a reality in developed nations, but in many countries where ChildFund
works, a full education is often a luxury.
In Guatemala in
particular, USAID reports that only two out of every
five children finish the sixth grade, and almost 31
percent of citizens over age 15 can't read, according to the CIA World
Factbook. Throughout the past decade, the Central American nation has made great
strides in helping more youths graduate from high school and meet appropriate
literacy standards, but, unfortunately, Guatemala must overcome several
obstacles to ensure all of its children have access to education.
A Desperate Need for Funding
One of the factors that
prevents Guatemala from providing its citizens with the education they need is
funding. According to UNESCO, about
18.5 percent of Guatemala's government spending is put toward education, but
in most cases, this is simply not enough.
Many schools still do
not have the space, faculty or materials they need to educate local children.
This is especially true in rural villages, where few schools are properly
equipped. When schools that lack the resources to help children succeed
academically and socially, the children are less likely to emerge from poverty
The Unreached Indigenous Population
under-resourced schools and inadequate access to education are problems found
throughout Guatemala, these issues are far more prevalent in rural areas, which
are largely populated by indigenous people of Mayan and African descent.
Throughout Guatemala's turbulent political history, its indigenous people have
suffered discrimination and severe poverty, which extends to schooling.
The highest percentage
of Guatemalan children who are not enrolled in school live in rural areas like
Alta Verapaz, Quiche and Huehuetenango, according to data from the Guatemalan
Ministry of Education. Indigenous peoples live in these regions, and because of
crushing poverty, many children must leave school to work and support their
families. The U.N. Refugee Agency reports that indigenous children attend school
only half as long as their non-indigenous peers, and they're far more likely to
To help give these
children a chance for a happy and productive future, ChildFund works in Guatemala
with local partners to give indigenous children the tools they need to receive
an education and develop strong thinking skills and self-confidence. With your
help, we can continue this important work.